Muscle weakness associated with early death, according to new study

Sep 13, 2018

People with low muscle strength are more likely to die prematurely, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

Study authors say after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and chronic health conditions, they found people who were defined as having muscle weakness were 50% more likely to die prematurely than those who weren’t.

Study author Kate Duchowny said it’s not clear why there is such a strong association between muscle weakness and death.

“If you’re not active we know that you’re more susceptible to chronic disease so we think it’s a chain affect that’s occurring where weak individuals are less likely to work out but also get sicker and then subsequently die earlier.”

The study looked at 84-hundred people 65 and older over a nine year period.

Duchowny said the study tested for muscle strength based on a patient's hand strength.

“Currently even though we know hand grip strength is really predictive, not just for early death but also for disability and chronic disease status it’s currently not integrated into routine care. So when you go to the doctor typically no one is taking your hand grip strength.”

Duchowny said she thinks doctors should begin monitoring hand strength for clues to overall health.