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J Geriatr Cardiol. 2016 Jul;13(7):615-24. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2016.07.004.

Sarcopenia in heart failure: mechanisms and therapeutic strategies.

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Center for Geriatric Medicine (CEMI), Institute of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics Catholic, University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.


Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a highly prevalent condition among the elderly and is associated with considerable morbidity, institutionalization and mortality. In its advanced stages, CHF is often accompanied by the loss of muscle mass and strength. Sarcopenia is a geriatric syndrome that has been actively studied in recent years due to its association with a wide range of adverse health outcomes. The goal of this review is to discuss the relationship between CHF and sarcopenia, with a focus on shared pathophysiological pathways and treatments. Malnutrition, systemic inflammation, endocrine imbalances, and oxidative stress appear to connect sarcopenia and CHF. At the muscular level, alterations of the ubiquitin proteasome system, myostatin signaling, and apoptosis have been described in both sarcopenia and CHF and could play a role in the loss of muscle mass and function. Possible therapeutic strategies to impede the progression of muscle wasting in CHF patients include protein and vitamin D supplementation, structured physical exercise, and the administration of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and β-blockers. Hormonal supplementation with growth hormone, testosterone, and ghrelin is also discussed as a potential treatment.


Ghrelin; Muscle loss; Protein supplementation; Vitamin D

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