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J Clin Densitom. 2015 Oct-Dec;18(4):461-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2015.04.012. Epub 2015 Jun 12.

The Epidemiology of Sarcopenia.

Author information

1
Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; Academic Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. Electronic address: rd@mrc.soton.ac.uk.
2
Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; Academic Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care: Wessex, UK.
3
Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
4
Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; Academic Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK; National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care: Wessex, UK; Newcastle University Institute of Ageing and Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK.

Abstract

The aim of this review is to describe the epidemiology of sarcopenia, specifically prevalence, health outcomes, and factors across the life course that have been linked to its development. Sarcopenia definitions involve a range of measures (muscle mass, strength, and physical performance), which tend to decline with age, and hence sarcopenia becomes increasingly prevalent with age. Less is known about prevalence in older people in hospital and care homes, although it is likely to be higher than in community settings. The range of measures used, and the cutpoints suggested for each, presents a challenge for comparing prevalence estimates between studies. The importance of sarcopenia is highlighted by the range of adverse health outcomes that strength and physical performance (and to a lesser extent, muscle mass) have been linked to. This is shown most strikingly by the finding of increased all-cause mortality rates among those with weaker grip strength and slower gait speed. A life course approach broadens the window for our understanding of the etiology of sarcopenia and hence the potential intervention. An example is physical activity, with increased levels across midadulthood appearing to increase muscle mass and strength in early old age. Epidemiologic studies will continue to make an important contribution to our understanding of sarcopenia and possible avenues for intervention and prevention.

KEYWORDS:

Epidemiology; Muscle strength; Physical performance; Sarcopenia

PMID:
26073423
PMCID:
PMC4629409
DOI:
10.1016/j.jocd.2015.04.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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