Muscle Strength Associated with a Lower Risk of COVID-19 Hospitalization

A preprint paper discusses the results of a study exploring the relationship between increased muscle strength and hospitalization of severe COVID-19. Muscle strength is a strong predictor of many morbid conditions. The study used for this study was from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which has been collected from 2004 to 2017 on a two-yearly basis. A sample of SHARE participants answered a questionnaire between June to September 2020 as to whether they had been infected with COVID-19 and whether they had been hospitalized with the disease.

The investigators found that people at a higher risk of hospitalization were typically older, heavier, more likely to have cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease, and weaker muscle strength. Older patients had 70% higher odds of hospitalization due to COVID-19, while those with obesity had twice as high odds. Other risk factors failed to show significant linkages with COVID-19 hospitalization. However, the most recent measurement of maximal handgrip strength was closely correlated with the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization. With each one standard deviation (SD) increase in grip strength, the odds of hospitalization were reduced by ~35%. This study’s findings show that physical fitness is a significant correlate of the risk for severe COVID-19 following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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