Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging. As we get older, our muscle mass and strength starts declining naturally which can lead to mobility issues and other health problems if not managed properly. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at what sarcopenia is, its causes, risk factors and various treatment options available to help manage and reverse the effects of sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia refers to the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. It is estimated that almost 30% of adults aged 60 and over experience significant muscle loss due to sarcopenia. Some key facts about sarcopenia include:
– Muscle loss begins as early as 30-40 years of age but becomes more prominent after 50. On average, people lose around 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade after 30.
– The condition is characterized by a reduction in muscle fibre size (atrophy) and number (less fibres).
– As muscles weaken and shrink, it causes physical impairment like weakness, slowed movements and poor balance which raise risks of falls, injury and disability.
– Sarcopenia can negatively impact quality of life by reducing mobility and physical functioning in day-to-day activities. It can also lead to other serious health issues like increased hospitalization and death.
Causes and Risk Factors
While age is the biggest risk factor, several other factors can contribute to and accelerate the condition of sarcopenia:
– Lack of physical activity – Inactivity leads to muscle disuse atrophy. As we age, we tend to be less active physically which speeds up muscle loss.
– Poor nutrition – Not getting enough protein, vitamins D and E which are essential for muscle health and growth. Protein deficiency impairs muscle protein synthesis.
– Chronic diseases – Conditions like arthritis, diabetes, cancers, pulmonary diseases impair mobility and nutrient status making one more prone to sarcopenia.
– Genetics – Genetic predispositions can make some people more susceptible to muscle loss with ageing compared to others.
– Certain medications – Long term use corticosteroids, antidepressants and anticonvulsants are linked with muscle wasting.
– Lifestyle habits – Smoking, excess alcohol use and sedentary behaviours accelerate muscle loss compared to active ageing individuals.
Treatment Options for Sarcopenia
With effective Sarcopenia Treatment and lifestyle modifications, sarcopenia is largely preventable and in many cases even reversible. Here are some of the key treatment strategies for sarcopenia:
Exercise and Resistance Training
Regular exercise, especially resistance or strength training exercises that work major muscle groups are integral for sarcopenia treatment and prevention. Even light activities like walking provide benefits. Resistance exercises help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and slow down atrophy. Combination of aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility exercises at least 2-3 times a week is recommended as per individual ability and health condition.
Consuming adequate high-quality protein is critical for muscle maintenance. Older adults need at least 1-1.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, with 25-30g of protein at each meal for muscle protein synthesis. Good sources include lean meats, eggs, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy products and protein supplements if required.
For those not meeting needs through diet, supplements of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, omega-3, creatine and amino acids like leucine may provide additional benefits. Studies show supplements along with exercise help improve muscle mass and function. But its always best to first aim for nutrients through whole foods.
Testosterone supplementation may help in treating sarcopenia, especially in men with very low levels of the hormone. However, risks vs benefits need to be carefully assessed based on an individual’s age, health conditions and under medical guidance.
Prevention of Falls
balance and gait training exercises can help reduce falls risk in sarcopenic older adults. Fall prevention measures through home hazard assessments and modification are also important.
In severe cases or when above treatments don’t show effects, anabolic medications like selective androgen receptor modulators or other new therapeutic agents may be used under medical supervision for short durations to provide further benefits along with lifestyle changes.
This multi-pronged approach combining regular exercise, adequate protein intake, Vitamin D optimization, fall prevention and lifestyle modifications provide the best treatment outcomes in sarcopenia management and help improve quality of life in older people. Early lifestyle modifications are the key for successful prevention and treatment.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it