Sarcopenia: Loss of Muscle Mass - Step To Health

Sarcopenia: Loss of Muscle Mass

Loss of muscle mass is also known as sarcopenia. It's associated with a feeling of weakness and increased accidents and falls.
Sarcopenia: Loss of Muscle Mass

Last update: 18 October, 2021

Sarcopenia is a medical term used to refer to the loss of muscle mass and strength. The word comes from Greek, where ‘sarco’ means muscle and ‘penia’ means loss. It’s a common condition that comes with aging. 

However, sarcopenia can also have other causes or be accentuated due to some pathology. Experts estimate that, from the age of 30, the entire muscular system progressively loses mass and strength. This situation is accentuated after the age of 65, more or less. 

This occurs more abruptly in women after menopause, whereas it’s more gradual in men. Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about sarcopenia. 

Why does sarcopenia occur?

As we mentioned, sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength that generally occurs with age. However, many factors are involved in its development in addition to age.

First, there’s an important genetic influence and it also depends on each person’s own development. Additionally, physical inactivity is one of the major aggravators of sarcopenia. Sometimes, this inactivity is due to situations such as immobilization or a stage of hospitalization for an illness.

In addition, almost any chronic disease can trigger sarcopenia. This is especially true for those who suffer from an inflammatory pathology or cancer. Hormonal changes also play a role, like a decrease in testosterone. 

Also, decreased insulin secretion or resistance to it appears to be associated with sarcopenia. And, we can’t forget that you will experience loss of muscle mass if you suffer from malnutrition or any disease that causes nutrient deficiencies.


An older woman doing exercise

Symptoms of loss of muscle mass

Sarcopenia causes a person’s functional capacity to decrease because it makes people feel weak. For example, you may walk more slowly and clumsily and even fall frequently.

This increases the number of trips to the hospital because of fractures, and an increase in surgeries. People with sarcopenia often lose weight and stamina. Little by little, these patients have more difficulty breathing and it takes more effort. 

In addition, scientists have associated sarcopenia with an increased risk of osteoporosis and diabetes. They even think it might be related to disability and mortality. 

How to diagnose and treat sarcopenia

The diagnosis for sarcopenia is complex because it’s difficult to quantify people’s muscle mass. The most common way is to do physical tests that measure muscle strength and physical performance.

Older man exercising

They may also use imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging or computerized axial tomography. Also, they may take blood and urine tests to measure certain parameters that may be indicative of this condition. 

When treating sarcopenia, the aim is to help the person regain their mobility and abilities. To do this, it’s essential to carry out physical exercise and maintain an adequate diet that’s rich in protein. 

Ideally, the patient’s training should be focused on exercises that increase muscular endurance. They can use weights or use their own body weight. Also, you always have to take into account your limits, and you should talk to a professional if you have any questions.

In addition, it’s important to remember that sarcopenia is closely related to aging, but that’s not the only factor. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve your physical capacity, you can prevent many complications. 

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