The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review to assess the short-, middle- and long-term consequences of sarcopenia.
Prospective studies assessing the consequences of sarcopenia were searched across different electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBM Reviews, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EBM Reviews ACP Journal Club, EBM Reviews DARE and AMED). Only studies that used the definition of the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People to diagnose sarcopenia were included. Study selection and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. For outcomes reported by three or more studies, a meta-analysis was performed. The study results are expressed as odds ratios (OR) with 95% CI.
Of the 772 references identified through the database search, 17 were included in this systematic review. The number of participants in the included studies ranged from 99 to 6658, and the duration of follow-up varied from 3 months to 9.8 years. Eleven out of 12 studies assessed the impact of sarcopenia on mortality. The results showed a higher rate of mortality among sarcopenic subjects (pooled OR of 3.596 (95% CI 2.96–4.37)). The effect was higher in people aged 79 years or older compared with younger subjects (p = 0.02). Sarcopenia is also associated with functional decline (pooled OR of 6 studies 3.03 (95% CI 1.80–5.12)), a higher rate of falls (2/2 studies found a significant association) and a higher incidence of hospitalizations (1/1 study). The impact of sarcopenia on the incidence of fractures and the length of hospital stay was less clear (only 1/2 studies showed an association for both outcomes).