Weak hand grips linked to this common sleep problem, study shows

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In a new study, researchers found hand grips are linked to the common sleep problem obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The finding suggests that a handshake may give away whether people are healthy or at risk of a chronic disease or premature aging.

The research was conducted by medical experts in South Australia.

OSA is a common problem that involves repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat during sleep which can cause breathing to slow down or stop leading to a fall in blood oxygen levels fall as a result.

Overnight sleep studies of men aimed to link OSA sleep patterns with muscle and fat mass, and in turn grip strength.

In the study, the team assessed more than 600 men aged over 40 to 88 years to measure the link between sleep apnea and muscle mass with grip strength.

They found that worsening hypoxemia, which included how much time was spent below 90% oxygen saturation (usually 97%) – and even how long people spent with their airways completely closed (known as apnea) – was linked to reduced grip strength—regardless of muscle mass.

The findings suggest impairments in handgrip strength (HGS) may be related to fat infiltration of muscle, hypoxemia-induced reductions in peripheral neural innervation, or even endothelial dysfunction—a risk in chronic inflammation and even cancer.

The team says no matter how much muscle mass, a simple grip test can highlight underlying issues connected with aging, systemic inflammation, and worsening hypoxemia (lack of oxygen in the blood).

Further studies are required to connect the common sleep problem obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with hypoxemia.

One author of the study is Professor Robert Adams.

The study is published in Nature and Science of Sleep.

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