Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 10 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4097
  1. Avan Aihie Sayer, MRC clinical scientist and professor of geriatric medicine
  1. 1Ageing and Health, MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
  1. aas{at}

    A research agenda has been set, but recognition in clinical practice is lagging behind

    Sarcopenia is the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength with age.1 It is common in men and women, with prevalence ranging from 9% to 18% over the age of 65. Recognition of its serious health consequences in terms of frailty, disability, morbidity, and mortality is increasing. The estimated direct healthcare cost attributable to sarcopenia in the United States in 2000 was $18.5bn (£11.9bn; €14.2bn), about 1.5% of total healthcare expenditure for that year.2 In May 2010, the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People published consensus guidelines on the definition and diagnosis of sarcopenia.3

    What should clinicians look for? Well recognised risk factors for sarcopenia include increasing age, low levels of physical activity, inadequate nutrition, and comorbidity, such as type 2 diabetes.4 Identifying high risk groups of older people is straightforward, but making a diagnosis is more …

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