Handgrip strength and risk of cognitive outcomes: new prospective study and meta-analysis of 16 observational cohort studies

Setor K Kunutsor*, Nzechukwu Isiozor, Ari Voutilainen, Jari A Laukkanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Handgrip strength (HGS), a measure of muscular strength, might be a risk indicator for cognitive functioning, but the evidence is not consistent. Using a new prospective study and meta-analysis of published observational cohort studies, we aimed to evaluate the prospective associations of HGS with poor cognitive outcomes including cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Handgrip strength, measured using a Martin-Balloon-Vigorimeter, was assessed at baseline in a population-based sample of 852 men and women with good cognitive function in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease cohort. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated for cognitive outcomes. Relevant published studies were sought in MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science from inception until October 2021 and pooled using random effects meta-analysis. During a median follow-up of 16.6 years, 229 dementia cases were recorded. Comparing extreme tertiles of HGS, the multivariable adjusted HR (95% CI) for dementia, AD and vascular dementia was 0.77 (0.55-1.07), 0.75 (0.52-1.10) and 0.49 (0.16-1.48), respectively. In a meta-analysis of 16 population-based prospective cohort studies (including the current study) comprising 180,920 participants, the pooled multivariable adjusted relative risks (95% CIs) comparing the top vs bottom thirds of HGS levels were: 0.58 (0.52-0.65) for cognitive impairment; 0.37 (0.07-1.85) for cognitive decline; 0.73 (0.62-0.86) for dementia; 0.68 (0.53-0.87) for AD; and 0.48 (0.32-0.73) for vascular dementia. GRADE quality of evidence ranged from low to very low. Meta-analysis of aggregate prospective data suggests that HGS may be a risk indicator for poor cognitive outcomes such as cognitive impairment, dementia and AD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2007–2024
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Prof. Laukkanen is supported by the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, Helsinki, Finland.

Funding Information:
We thank the staff of the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine and the Research Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, and University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland, for the data collection in the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Handgrip strength
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cohort study
  • Meta-analysis


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