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The association of grip strength from midlife onwards with all-cause and cause-specific mortality over 17 years of follow-up in the Tromsø Study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel CooperORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Grip strength has consistently been found to predict all-cause mortality rates. However, few studies have examined cause-specific mortality or tested age differences in these associations. Methods: In 1994, grip strength was measured in the population-based Tromsø Study, covering the ages 50-80 years (N=6850). Grip strength was categorised into fifths, and as z-scores. In this cohort study, models with all-cause mortality and deaths from specific causes as the outcome were performed, stratified by sex and age using Cox regression, adjusting for lifestyle-related and health-related factors. Results: During 17 years of follow-up, 2338 participants died. A 1 SD reduction in grip strength was associated with HR=1.17 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.22) for allcause mortality in a model adjusted for age, gender and body size. This association was similar across all age groups, in men and women, and robust to adjustment for a range of lifestyle-related and health-related factors. Results for deaths due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory diseases and external causes resembled those for all-cause mortality, while for cancer, the association was much weaker and not significant after adjustment for lifestyle-related and health-related factors. Conclusions Weaker grip strength was associated with increased all-cause mortality rates, with similar effects on deaths due to CVD, respiratory disease and external causes, while a much weaker association was observed for cancer-related deaths. These associations were similar in both genders and across age groups, which supports the hypothesis that grip strength might be a biomarker of ageing over the lifespan.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Strand BH, Cooper R, Bergland A, Jorgensen L, Schirmer H, Skirbekk V, Emaus N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

Year: 2016

Volume: 70

Issue: 12

Pages: 1214-1221

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 26/05/2016

Acceptance date: 07/05/2016

Date deposited: 19/01/2022

ISSN (print): 0143-005X

ISSN (electronic): 1470-2738

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-206776


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