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      An overview of sarcopenia: facts and numbers on prevalence and clinical impact

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          Abstract

          Human muscle undergoes constant changes. After about age 50, muscle mass decreases at an annual rate of 1–2%. Muscle strength declines by 1.5% between ages 50 and 60 and by 3% thereafter. The reasons for these changes include denervation of motor units and a net conversion of fast type II muscle fibers into slow type I fibers with resulting loss in muscle power necessary for activities of daily living. In addition, lipids are deposited in the muscle, but these changes do not usually lead to a loss in body weight. Once muscle mass in elderly subjects falls below 2 standard deviations of the mean of a young control cohort and the gait speed falls below 0.8 m/s, a clinical diagnosis of sarcopenia can be reached. Assessment of muscle strength using tests such as the short physical performance battery test, the timed get-up-and-go test, or the stair climb power test may also be helpful in establishing the diagnosis. Sarcopenia is one of the four main reasons for loss of muscle mass. On average, it is estimated that 5–13% of elderly people aged 60–70 years are affected by sarcopenia. The numbers increase to 11–50% for those aged 80 or above. Sarcopenia may lead to frailty, but not all patients with sarcopenia are frail—sarcopenia is about twice as common as frailty. Several studies have shown that the risk of falls is significantly elevated in subjects with reduced muscle strength. Treatment of sarcopenia remains challenging, but promising results have been obtained using progressive resistance training, testosterone, estrogens, growth hormone, vitamin D, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Interesting nutritional interventions include high-caloric nutritional supplements and essential amino acids that support muscle fiber synthesis.

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          Most cited references 38

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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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            The timed "Up & Go": a test of basic functional mobility for frail elderly persons.

            This study evaluated a modified, timed version of the "Get-Up and Go" Test (Mathias et al, 1986) in 60 patients referred to a Geriatric Day Hospital (mean age 79.5 years). The patient is observed and timed while he rises from an arm chair, walks 3 meters, turns, walks back, and sits down again. The results indicate that the time score is (1) reliable (inter-rater and intra-rater); (2) correlates well with log-transformed scores on the Berg Balance Scale (r = -0.81), gait speed (r = -0.61) and Barthel Index of ADL (r = -0.78); and (3) appears to predict the patient's ability to go outside alone safely. These data suggest that the timed "Up & Go" test is a reliable and valid test for quantifying functional mobility that may also be useful in following clinical change over time. The test is quick, requires no special equipment or training, and is easily included as part of the routine medical examination.
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              A short physical performance battery assessing lower extremity function: association with self-reported disability and prediction of mortality and nursing home admission.

              A short battery of physical performance tests was used to assess lower extremity function in more than 5,000 persons age 71 years and older in three communities. Balance, gait, strength, and endurance were evaluated by examining ability to stand with the feet together in the side-by-side, semi-tandem, and tandem positions, time to walk 8 feet, and time to rise from a chair and return to the seated position 5 times. A wide distribution of performance was observed for each test. Each test and a summary performance scale, created by summing categorical rankings of performance on each test, were strongly associated with self-report of disability. Both self-report items and performance tests were independent predictors of short-term mortality and nursing home admission in multivariate analyses. However, evidence is presented that the performance tests provide information not available from self-report items. Of particular importance is the finding that in those at the high end of the functional spectrum, who reported almost no disability, the performance test scores distinguished a gradient of risk for mortality and nursing home admission. Additionally, within subgroups with identical self-report profiles, there were systematic differences in physical performance related to age and sex. This study provides evidence that performance measures can validly characterize older persons across a broad spectrum of lower extremity function. Performance and self-report measures may complement each other in providing useful information about functional status.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +49-30-450553506 , +49-30-450553951 , stephan.von.haehling@charite.de
                Journal
                J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle
                J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle
                Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle
                Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                2190-5991
                2190-6009
                17 December 2010
                December 2010
                : 1
                : 2
                : 129-133
                Affiliations
                [ ]Applied Cachexia Research, Department of Cardiology, Charité Medical School, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany
                [ ]Center for Cardiovascular Research (CCR), Charité Medical School, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany
                [ ]GRECC, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO USA
                [ ]Centre for Clinical and Basic Research, IRCCS San Raffaele, Rome, Italy
                Article
                14
                10.1007/s13539-010-0014-2
                3060646
                21475695
                © The Author(s) 2010
                Categories
                Editorial
                Custom metadata
                © Springer-Verlag 2010

                Orthopedics

                sarcopenia, muscle mass, morbidity, prevalence

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