Shaking hands 'detects death risks'

Shaking hands with your doctor could help to detect if you are at risk of dying from heart failure or stroke, new research has suggested.

Checking the firmness of a handshake is better than checking a patient's blood pressure, the study published in the Lancet medical journal said.

Testing grip strength could be a simple, cheap way to check if a patient is at risk, the research by the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada claimed.

Lead investigator Dr Darryl Leong said: "Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual's risk of death and cardiovascular disease.

"Doctors or other healthcare professionals can measure grip strength to identify patients with major illnesses such as heart failure or stoke who are at particularly high risk of dying from their illness."

Almost 140,000 people aged between 35 and 70 were studied over a period of four years in 17 countries.

The study found that as grip weakened the risk of death from "any cause" increased. The risk of death from heart disease, stoke or non-cardiovascular conditions increased by 17%, it said.

More research is required to look at what should be considered a healthy grip strength in different countries, Dr Leong said, as it differed according to ethnicity.

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