Objectives: The association between weak hand grip strength (HGS) and stroke recovery has been studied; however, few studies focused on the association of HGS with stroke prevalence and incidence.

Methods: A prospective cohort baseline study of a nationally representative sample in Chinese adults aged 45 years and older in 2011 was followed up in 2015. 8871 participants without stroke at baseline were followed. The associations of HGS and its changes with stroke prevalence and incidence were investigated using logistic regression models and Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results: Association of HGS and stroke prevalence was significant. HGS weakness significantly increased risk of stroke incidence, with 89.3% higher risk when compared to normal HGS. During 35,263 person-years of follow-up, 112 stroke patients occurred. The four-year incidence rate ratio of stroke for participants with a HGS weakness was 2.15, compared to normal HGS participants. HGS changes in weakness/weakness from 2011 to 2015(D-HGS) and normal/weakness D-HGS had higher risks of stroke incidence when compared with those who had normal/normal D-HGS.

Conclusions: HGS weakness and decline of HGS were associated with stroke incidence for adults aged 45 years and older in China.