Muscular weakness is known to be associated with Type 2 diabetes and researchers now report that hand grip can help doctors perform time-efficient screening tool for diabetes.

Healthcare practitioners can use assessment of normalised grip strength to routinely screen for Type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy adults, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Identifying consistent grip strength

The current study was able to identify consistent grip strength cut points relative to body weight, gender, and age group in a large nationally representative sample of participants pre-screened for conditions such as hypertension.

"Diagnosing this disease in its early stages is becoming increasingly more important for preventing complications caused by blood vessel damage associated with diabetes," said lead researcher Elise C Brown from the Department of Public and Environmental Wellness, Oakland University, Rochester, Maryland.

Grip
Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

The study identifies the levels of handgrip strength/weakness that correlate with Type 2 Diabetes in otherwise healthy men and women, according to their body weights and ages. "Healthcare providers now have a reliable test to detect it early before such complications set in," Brown added. Type 2 diabetes is asymptomatic in its initial stages, and prompt diagnosis can prevent or delay vascular complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy.

Establishing normalized grip strength

For the study, researchers analysed data to establish normalized grip strength (grip strength relative to body weight) cut points for diabetes risk. For example, the cut point for women aged 50-80 years is 0.49.

This means that if a 60-year old woman's combined grip strength from left and right hands was 43 kg, and her body weight was 90 kg, her normalized grip strength would be 0.478. Since this value is less than 0.49, this indicates that she is at increased risk for diabetes and further screening is warranted.

"Given the low cost, minimal training requirement and quickness of the assessment, the use of the normalized grip strength cut points in this paper could be used in routine health screenings to identify at-risk patients and improve diagnosis and outcomes," explained Dr. Brown.