By Noah Rayman
May 14, 2015

A new large-scale study suggests that grip strength could serve as a “simple, inexpensive” test for heart disease and other health risks.

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet on Wednesday, found that people whose grip strength declined the fastest faced higher risks of health problems, including strokes and heart disease. In fact, the study found, grip strength can be better than blood pressure at predicting risk,

According to the study, every 11lb drop in grip strength was correlated with a 16 percent rise in the risk of early death.

The researchers, who studied more than 140,000 people in 17 countries between 2003 and 2009, say more work is necessary to further explain the connection between grip and health risks.

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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