Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Predictors of Handgrip Strength among the Free Living Elderly in Rural Pahang,Malaysia

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Predictors of Handgrip Strength among the Free Living Elderly in Rural Pahang,Malaysia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: Reduced handgrip strength is an aging process that significantly influences the living activities of elderly. It is linked to premature mortality, disability and other health complications among elderly. Therefore, we aim to determine the associated predictors with handgrip strength among the free living elderly in Malaysia.

Methods: This was a cross sectional study conducted in a rural state in Malaysia. A total of 434 elderly individuals performed handgrip assessment. Socio-demographic characteristics, medical conditions, occupational history, functional ability (ADL) and depression (GDS) were enquired. Anthropometric measurements (weight and height) were also obtained.

Results: Majority of the respondents were Malays with mean age of 67.9 + 6.3 years. Maximum handgrip strength of males and females were 28.8+9.2 kg and 18.9+6.9 kg respectively (P<0.05). The aborigines had significantly lower handgrip strength (P<0.05) compared to Malays, Chinese and Indians. Handgrip strength was positively correlated (P<0.05) with weight, height and ADL, while negatively associated (P<0.05) with GDS for both gender. In the multivariate linear regression analysis; weight, height and race significantly predicted handgrip strength among both male and female elderly after adjustment for all potential confounders. However, GDS and ADL were only found to significantly predict handgrip strength among the male elderly; while age was only significant among the females.

Conclusion: Our sample population has significantly lower handgrip strength than the Western counterpart. Weight, height and race significantly predict handgrip strength among both male and female elderly. GDS, ADL are only found to be significant in males while age was only significant among the females.

Keywords: Elderly, Handgrip strength, Anthropometry, Malaysia

Introduction

"Malaysia is experiencing improved health, longer life expectancy, and low mortality as well as declining fertility" (1). This has brought about a change in the demographic profile of the country. Based on our population projections, the number of elderly in Malaysia will grow from 1.4 million (6.3%) in 2000 to 4.9 million (12.0%) by the year 2030, thus doubling in proportion, but more than tripling in numbers over the 30 year period (2) .

With this increased proportion, there is an increasing demand for the needs of elderly. These increased needs of elderly are largely due to the aging process that occurs. Studies have shown that decrease muscle mass and muscle size is one of the aging processes that will decrease handgrip strength (3-7). Reduced handgrip strength has also been consistently linked to premature mortality, disability and other health complications among elderly (8-10).

It is crucial to maintain muscle strength throughout life to reduce functional limitations that might closely relate to early death among the elderly. Evidences showed handgrip strength declined with advancing age (4-7) and positively related to nutritional status (4, 11-12). However, occupation history gave controversial results on handgrip strength. Some studies (13-14) demonstrated that elderly with history of doing heavy agricultural or manual work performed better handgrip strength as age progressed while another study showed contradicting results (15). Other factors such as depression (16) and medical conditions (10, 17) were also found to be predictors of handgrip strength. All the above have been extensively studied in the West; however there is a lack of such studies in Malaysia. We need to know the predictors of handgrip strength among elderly in our country to facilitate appropriate intervention programs. Therefore, our study aimed to determine the baseline handgrip strength and associated predictors of handgrip strength among free living elderly in the state of Pahang, Malaysia.

Materials and Methods

Study location and sampling method

This was an analytical cross-sectional study conducted in the state of Pahang, Malaysia. …

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