Background: Decreased handgrip strength has been reported to be a risk factor for all-cause death among the elderly. However, it is unclear whether handgrip strength measured in midlife is associated with risk of all-cause and cause-specific death in the general population. Methods: We followed, prospectively, a total of 2527 community-dwelling Japanese (1064 men and 1463 women) aged ≥40 years for 19 years. Participants were divided into three groups according to the age-specific and sex-specific tertiles of handgrip strength (T1, lowest; T3, highest). Results: During the follow-up period, 783 participants died, of whom 235 died of cardiovascular disease, 249 of cancer, 154 of respiratory disease and 145 of other causes. In the middle-aged group (40-64 years), multivariable-adjusted HRs (95% CIs) for all-cause death were 0.75 (0.56 to 0.99) in T2 and 0.49 (0.35 to 0.68) in T3 compared with T1 as a reference. Corresponding HRs (95% CI) in the elderly group (≥65 years) were 0.50 (0.40 to 0.62) and 0.41 (0.32 to 0.51), respectively. As regards the cause of death, higher levels of handgrip strength were significantly associated with decreased risks of cardiovascular death, respiratory death and death from other causes, but not of cancer, in the middle-aged and the elderly. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that handgrip strength levels in midlife and late life are inversely associated with the risks of all-cause and non-cancer death in the general Japanese population.
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