Sarcopenia: causes and diagnosis

Adults who walk less than 1 meter per second, at risk for sarcopenia

Written by: Dr. Alfonso Cruz Jentoft
Published: | Updated: 14/08/2018
Edited by: Anna Raventós Rodríguez

Sarcopenia (or muscle failure) is a geriatric syndrome characterized by a progressive and widespread loss of mass and function of skeletal muscle that has adverse consequences, especially physical disability, falls and death.

 

The word sarcopenia comes from two Greek words: sarx, meaning flesh, and penia, which speaks of the lack of something. In short, "lack of meat". It was not recognized as a disease in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) until 2016.

 

It is one of the main causes of physical fragility, and increases the risk of suffering problems such as death, falls, physical disability and poorer quality of life; Up to 30% of the elderly have sarcopenia, with higher prevalences in those living in residences.

 

Causes of sarcopenia

It can occur chronically and larvae (over many years), or quickly, usually caused by immobilization associated with an acute disease.

 

The pathophysiology of sarcopenia is complex and affects both muscle and its neurological and hormonal regulation.

 

The prevalence of sarcopenia increases with age and in certain care settings (residences, hospitals, rehabilitation centers).

Walk elderly person

Diagnosis of sarcopenia

The diagnosis of sarcopenia is based on documentation of low muscle mass associated with low muscle strength and / or low physical performance, which can be performed in different ways:

  • Muscle mass: can be known by performing a densiometry.
  • Muscle strength: can be obtained with a hand grip device.
  • Physical performance, that can be known with the speed of the march in a passage of 4 meters (being considered at risk those people who walk to less than 1 meter per second).

It is necessary to remember that sarcopenia is not the only disease that produces generalized loss of muscle mass, so do malnutrition and cachexia, and it is not always easy to distinguish between these three problems.

 

Once the disease is confirmed, its causes must be determined and a treatment plan drawn up. In addition, it is important to review medications that may be related to sarcopenia.

 

For more information contact a Geriatrics specialist .

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Alfonso Cruz Jentoft
Geriatrics

Dr. Cruz Jentoft is a recognized expert in geriatrics, medical director of different units of this specialty. He is the author of Life begins at fifty, and editor and co - author of more than forty scientific books. He has published more than sixty articles in national and international journals and has participated in the organization of various national and international conferences.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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