Hand-grip strength predicts incident disability in non-disabled older men

S Giampaoli, L Ferrucci, F Cecchi, C Lo Noce, A Poce, F Dima, A Santaquilani, M F Vescio, A Menotti
Age and Ageing 1999, 28 (3): 283-8

OBJECTIVES: To verify if hand-grip performance in older men is a predictor of disability.

DESIGN: Population-based prospective study.

SETTING: A sample from the Italian rural cohorts of the FINE study (Finland, Italy, Netherlands Elderly), representative of the general population of elderly men surveyed in 1991 and 1995.

PARTICIPANTS: 140 men aged 71-91 years who reported no disability in performing activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activity of daily living (IADLs) and mobility activities at baseline examination and provided information on their functional status at follow-up 4 years later.

MEASUREMENTS: Disability was defined as needing help in performing ADLs, IADLs and mobility. Hand-grip strength was evaluated at baseline by a mechanical dynamometer.

RESULTS: After adjusting for potential confounding variables, a lower concentration of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was the only factor predicting disability in men aged 76 years or younger and only reduced hand-grip strength predicted incident disability in men 77 years or older.

CONCLUSION: Poor hand strength as measured by hand-grip is a predictor of disability in older people. The hand-grip test is an easy and inexpensive screening tool to identify elderly people at risk of disability.

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