Objectives: To examine long-term changes in handgrip strength and the factors predicting handgrip strength decline.
Design: Longitudinal cohort study with 22 years of follow-up.
Setting: Population-based Mini-Finland Health Examination Survey in Finland.
Participants: Nine hundred sixty-three men and women aged 30 to 73 at baseline.
Measurements: Handgrip strength was measured using a handheld dynamometer at baseline and follow-up. Information on potential risk factors, namely lifestyle and chronic conditions, and their changes throughout the follow-up were based on health interviews.
Results: Based on linear mixed-effect models, midlife physically strenuous work, excess body weight, smoking, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and asthma predicted muscle strength decline over 22 years of follow-up (P < .05 for all). In addition, pronounced weight loss, becoming physically sedentary, persistent smoking, incident coronary heart disease, other cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic bronchitis, chronic back syndrome, long-lasting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and asthma were associated with accelerated handgrip strength decline (P < .05 for all).
Conclusion: Lifestyle and physical health earlier in life determine rate of muscle strength decline in old age. Efforts should be made to recognize persons at risk in a timely manner and target early interventions to middle-aged persons to slow down muscle strength decline and prevent future functional limitations and disability.
© 2011, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation © 2011, The American Geriatrics Society.