The onset of type 2 diabetes can be gradual and symptoms can be mild during the early stages. As a result, many people may not realize that they have diabetes. In fact, the International Diabetes Federation estimates that some 230 million people around the world are unaware of their condition. Early detection is of crucial importance, since prolonged undiagnosed diabetes can have negative effects, such as a higher risk of diabetes-related complications. Innovative screening tools are vital to prevent vascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes, as low muscular strength is linked to increased diabetes risk.
Research has shown that a reduction in the strength of person’s grip can be an important diagnostic clue for diabetes in adults who appear healthy otherwise. Recently, scientists have even identified specific cut points for the grip strength that indicate type 2 diabetes, making it possible for doctors to perform quick, easy testing for diabetes.
The scientists arrived at these cut points by analyzing data that came from grip strength tests of 5,108 individuals using inexpensive handgrip dynamometer devices. A dynamometer captures the combined grip strength of an individual’s left and right hands as a kilogram value. Dividing this number by the person’s weight in kilograms gives the person’s normalized grip strength.
The April 2020 US study’s cut points take into account age, gender, and body weight, which allows healthcare providers to determine quickly and inexpensively each individual’s risk of type 2 diabetes — including that of apparently healthy adults — and the need for further, more in-depth testing.
Identification of the relevant tools for public health and clinical screening of type 2 diabetes that may prompt diagnostic tests has long been a high priority. Loss of muscle strength in people with type 2 diabetes is evident in those newly diagnosed and is accelerated in those with higher blood sugar levels values or longer duration of diabetes.
Using the handgrip test for detecting risk of type 2 diabetes in adults is a novel and promising method. It can be easily implemented both in clinical and community settings as the handgrip dynamometers are portable, cost-effective, and only require minimal training. This approach could enhance early detection of type 2 diabetes and prevent further muscular impairment by prompting prevention and timely treatment interventions.
And there’s a positive twist. Research also shows that building muscle strength may lower the risk for type 2 diabetes by 32 percent. This is encouraging as even small amounts of resistance training may be helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes by improving muscle strength. The proper dose of resistance exercise may vary for different health outcomes and populations. It does not need to be complicated as it’s possible to get a good resistance workout with squats, planks or lunges and then consider adding free weights or weight machines.
So, let’s get going – pump some iron and firm up your handshake!