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Patterns and Correlates of Grip Strength in Older Americans

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Background: Muscle strength is a sensitive indicator of morbidity and mortality in older adults. Loss of muscle strength contributes to a decline in physical functioning. Hand grip strength is a simple measurement but correlated with total body muscle strength. This study evaluated the patterns and correlates of grip strength among older adults in the United States.

Method: The grip strength data were analyzed from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Result: Individuals (n=1009) aged ≥65 years old who had a grip strength measure were included in this analysis. Age distribution was 31.5%, 27.2%, 16.2%, and 25.0% for 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, and 80+ respectively. Race distribution was 81.1%, 8.3%, 7.1%, and 3.5% for Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians respectively. The mean grip strength was 71.7kg in males and 44.6kg in females, and declined as age increased (p<.0001). Blacks had the highest grip strength, followed by Whites and Hispanics, and Asians had the lowest measure (p<.0001). Although several variables were found to be correlated with grip strength univariately, after adjusting for gender, age, and race, the factors that remained significantly and independently associated with weak grip strength were lower body weight, not being in good health status, and physical limitations.

Conclusion: Grip strength reduced as age increased. Blacks and Whites displayed higher grip strength than Asians and Hispanics. General health status, weight status and physical functioning were independently associated with grip strength. These findings suggest that grip strength could be a useful indicator for overall health assessment in older adults.

Keywords: Muscle strength; aging; grip strength; mortality; muscle strength loss; physical limitation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • Current Aging Science publishes frontier review and experimental articles in all areas of aging and age-related research that may influence longevity. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the biology and mechanism of aging, genetics, pathogenesis, intervention of normal aging process and preventive strategies of age-related disorders. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, clinical, molecular, and animal models, including lower organism models (e.g., yeast, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila). In addition to the affect of aging on integrated systems, the journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of adults stem cells, brain imaging, calorie restriction, immunosenescence, molecular diagnostics, pharmacology and clinical aspects of aging. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to developmental programming of aging and the synergistic mechanism of aging with cardiovascular diseases, obesity and neurodegenerative disorders.

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