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Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2016 Apr;16(4):515-21. doi: 10.1111/ggi.12486. Epub 2015 Mar 21.

Sarcopenia is an independent risk factor of dysphagia in hospitalized older people.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Tamana Regional Health Medical Center, Tamana, Japan.
Department of Surgery, Tamana Regional Health Medical Center, Tamana, Japan.



Sarcopenia can cause varying physical function disorders, including dysphagia. Malnutrition, a potential result of dysphagia, can also cause sarcopenia. However, the association between sarcopenia and dysphagia is not fully understood, despite evidence suggesting correlations between deglutition disorders and degenerative loss of muscle mass. The present study investigated the prevalence of dysphagia among patients with sarcopenia, and the association between the two conditions.


We included 224 older adults (mean age 82.5 ± 8.4 years; 37.9% men). Individuals who had a stroke or other diseases that could directly cause dysphagia were excluded. Logistic regression analyses were carried out after adjusting for potential causes of sarcopenia, including malnutrition, a low activity of daily living levels and aging, to investigate the relationship between the skeletal muscle index (SMI), prevalence of sarcopenia diagnosed based on a low SMI and grip strength, and swallowing functions. The Mini-Nutritional Assessment short form was used to assess their nutritional status, and the Barthel Index was used to evaluate their activities of daily living.


The prevalences of sarcopenia and dysphagia were 76.8% and 30.0%, respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that Barthel Index, SMI and presence of sarcopenia were significant independent factors for the prevalence of dysphagia, after adjusting for sex, age and nutritional status. Furthermore, subgroup analysis showed that SMI in males, and both hand-grip strength and SMI in females were lower in dysphagic subjects than in non-dysphagic subjects (P ≤ 0.01).


Sarcopenia was an independent risk factor for dysphagia among older individuals. However, further studies are required to define causality.


cross-sectional studies; deglutition disorders; malnutrition; sarcopenia; swallowing difficulty

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