A firm handshake can reveal more than your confidence level, new research suggests it can also indicate your health.

A recent study found people with a weak handshake had a higher risk of disability, illness, and death, McMaster University reported.

"Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual's risk of death and cardiovascular disease," said principal investigator Darryl Leong, an assistant professor of medicine of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and cardiologist for the hospital. "Doctors or other healthcare professionals can measure grip strength to identify patients with major illnesses such as heart failure or stoke who are at particularly high risk of dying from their illness."

To make their findings, a team of researchers looked at 140,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 70 from 17 countries. They measured the participants' grip strength using a handgrip dynamometer. They found that for every five kilogram decline in grip strength, there was a one in six increased risk of death from any cause. Risk of death from either heart disease or stroke, or non-cardiovascular conditions was observed to jump 17 percent. 

The link between grip strength and death risk was not accounted for by differenced in age, "sex, education level, employment status, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, diet, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio or other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, coronary artery disease, COPD, stroke or heart failure, or their country's wealth," the researchers reported. 

In the future, the researchers hope to further investigate the link between grip strength and health, and whether or not improving muscle strength could help reduce these risks.

The findings were published in a recent edition of the journal The Lancet.