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Metabolism. 2002 Jan;51(1):69-74.

Appendicular lean tissue mass and the prevalence of sarcopenia among healthy women.

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Center for Clinical and Basic Research, Ballerup, Denmark.


Studies indicate that deficient skeletal muscle mass or sarcopenia is a major cause of disability and morbidity among the elderly. In part, due to the lack of generally applicable normal values, there is still insufficient epidemiologic data available on the frequency and severity of sarcopenia in health and under various disease-related conditions. The objectives of the present study were to (1) characterize the age- and menopause-related variations in appendicular lean tissue mass (LTM(A)), (2) provide young-normal means and estimate the age-specific prevalence of sarcopenia among healthy women. A total of 754 healthy women were included in the study of cross-sectional design. LTM(A) was estimated by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Physical characteristics and menopausal status were also registered. LTM(A) as well as height showed significant negative correlation with age with Pearson's r values of -0.43 and -0.06, respectively (P <.05). Trend of finding lower mean values with advancing age remained even when LTM(A) was adjusted for height(2) (ht(2)). Menopause did not seem to have any influence on LTM(A). Young-normal means were obtained from 216 premenopausal women aged 18 to 39 years. Prevalence rates of sarcopenia in healthy women were determined with reference to a cut-off line corresponding to LTM(A) or LTM(A)/ht(2) less than young-normal mean 2 SD and were found to be 40.2% and 12.3%, respectively, among the healthy elderly (>70 years of age). Results of the present study provide further evidence that sarcopenia exists even among otherwise healthy women with increasing age-specific prevalence. Further studies are needed (1) to estimate the prevalence of sarcopenia under various health and disease-related conditions with reference to the hereby given cut-off values and (2) to find therapeutic strategies with beneficial effects in conserving skeletal muscle mass.

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