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      Health Outcomes of Sarcopenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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          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).


          Sarcopenia is associated with several harmful outcomes, making this geriatric syndrome a real public health burden.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Sarcopenia: European consensus on definition and diagnosis

          The European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) developed a practical clinical definition and consensus diagnostic criteria for age-related sarcopenia. EWGSOP included representatives from four participant organisations, i.e. the European Geriatric Medicine Society, the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics—European Region and the International Association of Nutrition and Aging. These organisations endorsed the findings in the final document. The group met and addressed the following questions, using the medical literature to build evidence-based answers: (i) What is sarcopenia? (ii) What parameters define sarcopenia? (iii) What variables reflect these parameters, and what measurement tools and cut-off points can be used? (iv) How does sarcopenia relate to cachexia, frailty and sarcopenic obesity? For the diagnosis of sarcopenia, EWGSOP recommends using the presence of both low muscle mass + low muscle function (strength or performance). EWGSOP variously applies these characteristics to further define conceptual stages as ‘presarcopenia’, ‘sarcopenia’ and ‘severe sarcopenia’. EWGSOP reviewed a wide range of tools that can be used to measure the specific variables of muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance. Our paper summarises currently available data defining sarcopenia cut-off points by age and gender; suggests an algorithm for sarcopenia case finding in older individuals based on measurements of gait speed, grip strength and muscle mass; and presents a list of suggested primary and secondary outcome domains for research. Once an operational definition of sarcopenia is adopted and included in the mainstream of comprehensive geriatric assessment, the next steps are to define the natural course of sarcopenia and to develop and define effective treatment.
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            Sarcopenia in Asia: consensus report of the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia.

            Sarcopenia, a newly recognized geriatric syndrome, is characterized by age-related decline of skeletal muscle plus low muscle strength and/or physical performance. Previous studies have confirmed the association of sarcopenia and adverse health outcomes, such as falls, disability, hospital admission, long term care placement, poorer quality of life, and mortality, which denotes the importance of sarcopenia in the health care for older people. Despite the clinical significance of sarcopenia, the operational definition of sarcopenia and standardized intervention programs are still lacking. It is generally agreed by the different working groups for sarcopenia in the world that sarcopenia should be defined through a combined approach of muscle mass and muscle quality, however, selecting appropriate diagnostic cutoff values for all the measurements in Asian populations is challenging. Asia is a rapidly aging region with a huge population, so the impact of sarcopenia to this region is estimated to be huge as well. Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia (AWGS) aimed to promote sarcopenia research in Asia, and we collected the best available evidences of sarcopenia researches from Asian countries to establish the consensus for sarcopenia diagnosis. AWGS has agreed with the previous reports that sarcopenia should be described as low muscle mass plus low muscle strength and/or low physical performance, and we also recommend outcome indicators for further researches, as well as the conditions that sarcopenia should be assessed. In addition to sarcopenia screening for community-dwelling older people, AWGS recommends sarcopenia assessment in certain clinical conditions and healthcare settings to facilitate implementing sarcopenia in clinical practice. Moreover, we also recommend cutoff values for muscle mass measurements (7.0 kg/m(2) for men and 5.4 kg/m(2) for women by using dual X-ray absorptiometry, and 7.0 kg/m(2) for men and 5.7 kg/m(2) for women by using bioimpedance analysis), handgrip strength (<26 kg for men and <18 kg for women), and usual gait speed (<0.8 m/s). However, a number of challenges remained to be solved in the future. Asia is made up of a great number of ethnicities. The majority of currently available studies have been published from eastern Asia, therefore, more studies of sarcopenia in south, southeastern, and western Asia should be promoted. On the other hand, most Asian studies have been conducted in a cross-sectional design and few longitudinal studies have not necessarily collected the commonly used outcome indicators as other reports from Western countries. Nevertheless, the AWGS consensus report is believed to promote more Asian sarcopenia research, and most important of all, to focus on sarcopenia intervention studies and the implementation of sarcopenia in clinical practice to improve health care outcomes of older people in the communities and the healthcare settings in Asia. Copyright © 2014 American Medical Directors Association, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Sarcopenia: an undiagnosed condition in older adults. Current consensus definition: prevalence, etiology, and consequences. International working group on sarcopenia.

              Sarcopenia, the age-associated loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, has considerable societal consequences for the development of frailty, disability, and health care planning. A group of geriatricians and scientists from academia and industry met in Rome, Italy, on November 18, 2009, to arrive at a consensus definition of sarcopenia. The current consensus definition was approved unanimously by the meeting participants and is as follows: Sarcopenia is defined as the age-associated loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. The causes of sarcopenia are multifactorial and can include disuse, altered endocrine function, chronic diseases, inflammation, insulin resistance, and nutritional deficiencies. Although cachexia may be a component of sarcopenia, the 2 conditions are not the same. The diagnosis of sarcopenia should be considered in all older patients who present with observed declines in physical function, strength, or overall health. Sarcopenia should specifically be considered in patients who are bedridden, cannot independently rise from a chair, or who have a measured gait speed less that 1 m/s(-1). Patients who meet these criteria should further undergo body composition assessment using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry with sarcopenia being defined using currently validated definitions. A diagnosis of sarcopenia is consistent with a gait speed of less than 1 m·s(-1) and an objectively measured low muscle mass (eg, appendicular mass relative to ht(2) that is ≤ 7.23 kg/m(2) in men and ≤ 5.67 kg/m(2) in women). Sarcopenia is a highly prevalent condition in older persons that leads to disability, hospitalization, and death. Copyright © 2011 American Medical Directors Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                17 January 2017
                : 12
                : 1
                [1 ]Public Health, Epidemiology and Health Economics, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
                [2 ]Aix-Marseille University, School of Medicine, Marseille, France
                [3 ]Life Sciences Library, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
                University of British Columbia, CANADA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                • Conceptualization: CB JYR OB.

                • Data curation: CB.

                • Formal analysis: CB.

                • Funding acquisition: CB.

                • Investigation: CB MZ.

                • Methodology: CB FP OB.

                • Project administration: OB JYR.

                • Resources: JYR OB.

                • Supervision: OB JYR.

                • Validation: CB MZ.

                • Visualization: CB.

                • Writing – original draft: CB.

                • Writing – review & editing: CB MZ FP JYR OB.

                © 2017 Beaudart et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 5, Pages: 16
                Funded by: C.B. is supported by a fellowship from the FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique—FRS-FNRS—
                Award Recipient :
                C.B. is supported by a fellowship from the FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique—FRS-FNRS—
                Research Article
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                Biology and Life Sciences
                Muscle Physiology
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                Muscle Analysis
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