The medical definition of sarcopenia is the gradual loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The condition commonly affects the elderly population and is thought to occur due to aging. Sarcopenia can greatly impact your quality of life by reducing your ability to perform daily tasks. It can lead to the loss of your independence and the need for long-term care.

Causes of Sarcopenia

  • Physical inactivity.

  • Obesity.

  • Chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and HIV.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Insulin resistance.

  • Reduction in hormone levels.

  • Malnutrition or inadequate protein intake.

  • Decrease in your ability to convert protein to energy.

  • Decline in the number of nerve cells that send messages from your brain to your muscles telling them to move.

Symptoms of Sarcopenia

  • Loss of stamina.

  • Difficulty performing daily activities.

  • Walking slowly.

  • Trouble climbing stairs.

  • Poor balance and falls.

  • Decrease in muscle size.

Diagnosis of Sarcopenia

Handgrip test

Handgrip strength draws a parallel to the strength in your other muscles. Providers use it to identify shortages in overall muscle strength.

Chair stand test

Providers use the chair stand test to measure your leg muscle strength, especially your quadriceps. The chair stand test measures the number of times you can stand and sit from a chair without the use of your arms in 30 seconds.

Walking speed test

The walking (gait) speed test measures the time it takes for you to travel 4 meters (about 13 feet) at your usual walking pace.

Short physical performance battery (SPPB)

With the SPPB test, you take three timed tasks: chair stand test, standing balance test and walking speed test.

Timed-up and go test (TUG)

The TUG test measures the time it takes for you to rise from a chair, walk 3 meters (about 10 feet) away from the chair, walk 3 meters back to the chair, and sit back down in the chair.

Treatment of Sarcopenia

Treatment for sarcopenia typically includes lifestyle changes. These modifications to your lifestyle behaviors can treat and help reverse sarcopenia.

Physical activity

Your healthcare provider may recommend progressive resistance-based strength training. This type of exercise can help improve your strength and reverse your muscle loss.

Healthy diet

When paired with regular exercise, eating a healthy diet can also help reverse the effects of sarcopenia. It’s especially important to increase your protein intake through food or supplements.

diseases treatments health prevention muscular-system disorders sarcopenia

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