You may have seen headlines recently claiming that the strength of your handshake can predict your risk of dying. While you may have closed a few business deals thanks to your firm handshake, you can't count on it to save your life. And even if your grip is limper than a wet noodle, you might have a pretty firm grasp on this mortal coil. That's because grip strength doesn't provide a full enough picture of your actual health status.
Some of these headlines claimed that you might be especially at risk of dying if you have both a weak grip and high blood pressure. But a recent study at Oregon State University is debunking this. While we generally think of high blood pressure as a bad thing, sometimes it's just a function of growing older. The body needs to make up for a loss of elasticity in the blood vessels, so it raises blood pressure to ensure every part of the body continues to get the blood it needs.
In patients with high blood pressure, it's important to measure functionality and frailty. When frailty and a loss of functionality begin to accompany high blood pressure, that's a warning sign that one's cardiovascular health may not be great. Previously, grip strength was thought to be an indicator of frailty. But this recent study shows it may not be such a reliable measure after all.
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The researchers found that having patients with high blood pressure complete a gait speed test gave them more information than a grip strength test alone. They looked at people who were fast walkers and slow walkers and had strong grips and weak grips. They found that the best way to determine who needed intervention was to combine the two groups: the people who were slow walkers AND had weak grip strength were the most likely to be at risk of dying due to high blood pressure.
So if you know your grip strength isn't great, but you can still keep up with the pack, you probably don't need to be overly concerned. However, if your blood pressure is high, you've noticed you're moving more slowly than usual, and jar lids seem tighter than they used to, it's probably time to do something about it.
Besides regular aerobic exercise and a diet high in leafy greens, you can improve both your blood pressure and your functionality by taking CircO2. That's because CircO2 promotes healthy circulation. With improved blood flow, you'll have more energy to get moving and walk quickly. And your blood vessels won't have to work so hard to get blood to where it needs to go.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD