PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The next time you visit the doctor, you might want to shake his or her hand.

Researchers found that poor hand grip is a sign you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

READ MORE: New Jersey Offers Cash To Get Workers Training, Small Business Jobs

It can also predict the chances of suffering from major illness or dying prematurely.

“The firmness of your hand grip is better than your blood pressure at assessing your health,” allege researchers from McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

READ MORE: Evesham Township Police Searching For Suspect Accused Of Hitting Officer With Stolen Truck

Researchers followed about 140,000 people between 35 and 70 over a period of four years. Their muscle grip was recorded using a handgrip dynamometer.

Apparently, for every five kilogram decrease in grip strength, there was a one in six increased risk of death, and a 17% increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Flower Show Set For Return To South Philly's FDR Park In 2022

The study is published in the journal The Lancet.