Muscle-wasting in The Elderly (Sarcopenia)
From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass sometime around 30-40 years old. After that point, a gradual loss of muscle mass begins and can continue a steady, downhill course into old age. After 40 years, muscle mass begins to decrease around 1-2% per year. After 50-60 years, the strength of muscle gradually decreases around 1.5% per year. Because loss of muscle leads to decreased functional capacity and is associated with numerous amounts of health risks and a decrease in quality of life, being aware of the risk of sarcopenia is important.
What is sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia refers to a clinically significant loss of muscle mass and strength resulting from normal aging. It is not solely the result of disease, but rather, is part of the natural aging process. It is one of the problems in geriatric syndrome that can be found in 1 in 3 older adults.
- Difficulty getting up from a chair
- Impaired balance
- Losing weight
- Risk of osteoporosis, frailty
- Weakness and loss of stamina, which can interfere with physical activity
- Decrease quality of life
- Increase mortality from other comorbidities
How to tell if you have sarcopenia
The signs of sarcopenia are the result of diminished muscle strength and loss of muscle mass. Muscle mass can be measured by using Bioelectrical impendence analysis (BIA). In addition, hand grip strength can evaluate muscle strength, while gait speed can evaluate performance.
3 things that can prevent sarcopenia are:
- Exercise: Resistive exercise 2-3 times per week can increase muscle strength. Aerobic exercise can increase muscle mass and reduce fat in the muscle.
- Food: Getting protein in your diet directly signals your muscle tissue to build and strengthen. The amino acid leucine is particularly important for regulating muscle growth. Rich sources of leucine include soy, fish, and beef.
- Lifestyle changes: Stop smoking, Reduce alcohol intake, Treat comorbidities
Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength, becomes more common with age and can decrease quality of life. Eating high quality protein and exercise can help prevent sarcopenia. These simple steps will provide the foundation for keeping you strong, mobile, and independent. It is never too late to get started.
For more information:
Bangkok Longevity Center, Bangkok Hospital
2nd floor, Wattanosoth Hospital Buidling
Call 0 2310 3755 or 1719
Fax 0 2310 3335