Objectives: To examine the association between handgrip strength and mortality in older Mexican American men and women.
Design: A 5-year prospective cohort study.
Setting: Five southwestern states: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California.
Participants: A population-based sample of 2,488 noninstitutionalized Mexican-American men and women aged 65 and older.
Measurements: Maximal handgrip strength, timed walk, and body mass index were assessed at baseline during 1993/94. Self-reports of functional disability, various medical conditions, and status at follow-up were obtained.
Results: Of the baseline sample with complete data, 507 persons were confirmed deceased 5 years later. Average handgrip strength +/- standard deviation was significantly higher in men (28.4 kg +/- 9.5) than in women (18.2g +/- 6.5). Of men who had a handgrip strength less than 22.01 kg and women who had a handgrip strength less than 14 kg, 38.2% and 41.5%, respectively, were dead 5 years later. In men in the lowest handgrip strength quartile, the hazard ratio of death was 2.10 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.31-3.38) compared with those in the highest handgrip strength quartile, after controlling for sociodemographic variables, functional disability, timed walk, medical conditions, body mass index, and smoking status at baseline. In women in the lowest handgrip strength quartile, the hazard ratio of death was 1.76 (95%I = 1.05-2.93) compared with those in the highest handgrip strength quartile. Poorer performance in the timed walk and the presence of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cancer were also significant predictors of mortality 5 years later.
Conclusion: Handgrip strength is a strong predictor of mortality in older Mexican Americans, after controlling for relevant risk factors.