One third of care home residents may suffer muscle dysfunction

A new report published in Age & Ageing gives updated figures on the prevalence of sarcopenia (muscle dysfunction), and calls for active screening of older adults along with exercise programs to help manage the condition. The systematic review revealed new details around sarcopenia – an important health condition which is associated with an increased risk of falls and functional dependence.shutterstock_46424935

The report shows that sarcopenia may affect as many as 1 in 20 adults, and up to 1 in 3 care home residents. These findings come from an international collaborative study, which uses a new international consensus definition of sarcopenia to draw together all the results from recent cutting-edge research.

The report also reveals that there are successful treatments available to manage the condition. Exercise interventions, including endurance and resistance training, appear to improve muscle strength and function, as do short term nutritional intervention trials using proteins, essential amino acids, leucine or beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (although evidence from longer-term trials is sparse).

Professor Alfonso Cruz-Jentoft, corresponding author of the report and co-chair of the International Sarcopenia Initiative said:

“Sarcopenia is an important concept through which to understand and combat frailty and dependence in old adults; it associates with negative clinical outcomes, for example difficulties in ADL, extended hospital stays and mortality.

This report provides important new information to understand the condition, and underscores the importance of preventative and clinical management strategies for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia. “

The review provides recommendations for clinical practice including active screening for sarcopenia in older adults, exercise training and a good protein intake.

It also suggests important areas for future research: better population studies are required to understand the influence of gender, nationality and ethnicity on risk of sarcopenia; the effects of nutritional interventions remain uncertain; and how best to target and tailor exercise for maximum effect remains unclear. The paper sets out how researchers should be considering these important questions so that we can tackle this important and prevalent problem as part of the health service’s response to the ageing population.

The report analysed evidence from the PubMed and Dialog databases on studies into sarcopenia, conducted between 2000 and 2013. It reveals that with regional and age-related variations, the highest prevalences of sarcopenia were 29% in community-dwelling populations, 33% in long-term care populations and 10% in the only acute hospital-care population examined.

Read the full paper on the A&A website.

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