The life of someone with a weak handshake, already burdened with the stereotypes of being passive and awkward, just got much worse. According to a new study published in The Lancet, a weak hand grip may be strongly correlated to an increased chance of being diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease and even a premature death.
“We think it fits the measure of someone’s frailty, and frailty can be thought of as your ability to withstand having a disease,” the study’s lead author Dr. Darryl Leong explained, according to CTV News.
The study, which focused on roughly 140,000 adults across 17 countries, asked participants to squeeze objects as hard as they could. After measuring their grip strengths, those who demonstrated a lack of muscular strength were shown to be at a far greater risk of having a heart attack.
While previous studies have shown similar links, the new findings are the first to show that handshakes can be a reliable indicator of premature mortality. But the study did not establish whether illnesses were the consequences of reduced muscular strength or if the diseases were already present. From the Economist:
If the former is true, then building up strength through exercise might avert early death. If it is the latter, a person’s cards are probably marked irreversibly. Most likely, it is a bit of both, with muscle strength being a good marker of “real” ageing—in other words, of generalised biochemical decrepitude—which correlates only imperfectly with someone’s calendar age.
You can read the study in its entirety here.