Associations of Relative Handgrip Strength and Cardiovascular Disease Biomarkers in U.S. Adults, 2011-2012

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jun;50(6):677-683. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.10.022. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Introduction: Although decline in muscle mass and quality and resulting declines in muscle strength are associated with aging, more research is needed in general populations to assess the utility of handgrip strength as an indicator of muscle strength and cardiovascular disease risk.

Methods: Data from 4,221 participants aged ≥20 years in the 2011-2012 cycle of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed during 2014-2015. Standing isometric relative handgrip strength (calculated as maximal absolute handgrip strength from both hands divided by BMI) was used to predict cardiovascular biomarkers, including blood pressure (measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure); serum lipids (total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides); and plasma insulin and glucose.

Results: Results from regression analyses showed that higher relative grip strength was significantly associated with lower systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and plasma insulin and glucose, and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in male and female participants (p<0.05 for all). Secondary descriptive analyses found that absolute handgrip strength increased significantly with increasing weight status, but relative handgrip strength decreased significantly with increasing weight status.

Conclusions: Results suggest that increased relative handgrip strength may be associated with a better profile of cardiovascular health biomarkers among U.S. adults. Relative grip strength, which both adjusts for the confounding of mass and assesses concomitant health risks of increased body size and low muscle strength, may be a useful public health measure of muscle strength.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides