KRON 4 | Why Grip Strength Predicts Your Longevity

If you’re like most people, you don’t think about your grip strength until you struggle to open a jar or untighten a knob. But now there’s reason to know your actual grip strength. KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, tests his grip, and I explain what your grip strength (or lack of it) says about your health.

What a Strong (or Weak) Grip Says About You
Research shows your grip strength is a good predictor of overall strength; and overall strength is a good predictor of overall health.

According to a four-year global study of over 140,000 people aged 35-70 years old in 17 countries, a weak grip is a stronger predictor for death from ANY cause compared to systolic* blood pressure. In other words, a firm, strong hand grip is a better health assessment tool than your blood pressure.

*Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts. In one of our previous health segments, a high pulse pressure is a predictor of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease — a sign of stiff, damaged arteries.

These findings were published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, and were broadly consistent across various countries and economic levels.

How to Measure Grip Strength

Muscle strength is measured by grip. Your handshake can reveal your health status. Do you have a weak handshake or are you known for having a “vice grip”?

How to measure grip strength with a hand dynamometer.
A hand dynamometer measures grip strength.

Grip strength testing is inexpensive, easily performed in a doctor’s office, and the results are immediate. NOTE: Grip strength is affected by a person’s stature:

  • Circumference of the forearm
  • Circumference of the hand
  • Hand length

Since stature affects grip strength, relative grip strength is a better method of assessing muscle weakness (i.e., comparing changes in strength) vs. absolute grip strength using standard normative values.

Powerful Predictor of Death

The researchers found that every 11-pound decline in grip strength was linked to the following:   Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Grip Strength Predicts Your Longevity”

KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease

A 15-year study on “added sugar” and heart disease found that participants were twice as likely to die from heart disease who consumed 25 percent or more of daily calories from added sugar compared to those that consumed 10 percent or less. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about sugar and its link to aging.

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KRON 4 Sugar5    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease”

KRON 4 | Managing Childhood Heart Disease

Although you may not see heart attacks and strokes until middle age, the process of cardiovascular disease can begin early in life — often as children. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caretaker of children, this information is vital to their longevity. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about how to identify who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent or delay it.

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Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Children

In a study of young American children, over 50% of children aged 10-14 years showed evidence of early heart disease (fatty streaks and plaque accumulated in the arteries). A higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of CVD
  • Smoking

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Inactivity at any age can lead to lifelong habits and result in developing chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Better in School  

  • An American College of Sports Medicine research study found that kids that engage in vigorous-intensity activity were better able to concentrate and even exhibited fewer behavioral problems than kids that participated in moderate-intensity activity.

Vigorous exercise is performed at a higher intensity and is continuous, such as soccer, basketball, football, ice skating, beach volleyball, baseball, softball, jump roping, swimming, and singles tennis.   Continue reading “KRON 4 | Managing Childhood Heart Disease”

Matcha: The Ultimate Health Drink ☘

Organic green matcha tea

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to the usual shamrock-shaded green beer to show your St. Patrick’s Day spirit, try matcha. Matcha (pronounced “MA-cha”) is a finely ground green tea powder that dates back to a 1,000-year-old Japanese tea ceremony. Preparing and serving matcha is a formal art in Japan and the health benefits of this green elixir have been striking.

The Magic of Matcha

Researchers consider green tea the healthiest beverage you can drink. Its health benefits have been studied since the 1990s due to their strong correlation between long life and health in many Asian cultures. Extensive studies on green tea revealed that it provides significant protection against:

  • Cardiovascular disease heart disease (atherosclerosis)
  • Low density lipoproteins (LDLs – the “bad” cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke

Healthy, plaque-free blood vessels are good for your heart and what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. An active, working brain requires sufficient blood flow.

Catechin Polyphenols

What makes matcha so beneficial? Something called polyphenols. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants and green tea contains polyphenols classified as “catechins” (pronounced KAT’-eh-kins).

Catechin polyphenols are found in the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Catechins are also found in red wine, chocolate, berries, and apples, but in smaller amounts compared to tea leaves.

Four types of tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant:

  • Black
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • White

Green tea undergoes much less processing than the other teas, so it contains more antioxidants as well as less caffeine. Specifically, these hand-picked green tea leaves are high in catechin polyphenols called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is the most active and most studied of the polyphenols.

How to Drink It

Matcha is made from high quality leaves and is jewel green in color. When drinking matcha, in contrast to drinking steeped green tea, you are drinking the whole leaf and not just the brewed water from the leaves. Therefore, when drinking matcha, you’re consuming 10 times the antioxidants, i.e., the health benefits in one cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea.    Continue reading “Matcha: The Ultimate Health Drink ☘”

Be Aware If You Passed Your Treadmill Stress Test

Having his heart's functions checked

When I first started working in cardiac rehabilitation as a new college grad, one of my Phase 3 cardiac rehab patients had a heart attack when he was only 35 years old. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, he had his heart attack the DAY AFTER he “passed” his treadmill test. Back then, I couldn’t understand how that could possibly happen, but I now know better.

How Sensitive Is Your Treadmill Test?

Here’s what you need to know. Currently, the exercise ECG is the most cost-effective first-line screening tool, but its accuracy relies on the ‘sensitivity’ of the test. Sensitivity refers to the percentage of cases in which exercise testing accurately identifies the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD). Unfortunately, the exercise ECG it is not 100% sensitive to detecting coronary artery disease. 

Per the American College of Sports Medicine, the current sensitivity for detecting CAD using the exercise stress test is only about 70%.  In other words, if you test 100 cardiac rehab patients with documented coronary artery disease, only 70 patients would show evidence of CAD per the stress ECG test. If you’re one of the 30 remaining patients, where does that leave you?

False Negatives

Well, don’t start your celebratory dance (or meal) just yet. It just means that you may fall in either of the following groups:

  1. You have a negative stress test. That is, you actually “passed” and show no signs of coronary artery disease.
  2. You have a false-negative finding. This means you’ve been given a negative stress test result (normal) where no CAD ‘appears’ to be present, but you actually have CAD.

The bottom line… a negative exercise ECG test is no guarantee that you do NOT have coronary artery disease (CAD) even if your cardiologist tells you, “Everything looks great! See you in a year.” So sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s the reality. Cardiac events that occur after a negative stress test happen all too often, but it’s not so perplexing to me anymore.

Causes of False-Negatives (Lower Sensitivity)

Stress test results are only as valuable as your performance, the technician’s monitoring, and the test interpretation. Here are some factors that may increase your chances of a false-negative finding:    Continue reading “Be Aware If You Passed Your Treadmill Stress Test”