For some individuals, muscle wasting becomes more severe, leading to falls, frailty, immobility and a loss of autonomy. Individuals who experience a designated reduction in their muscle tissue, power, and function may be experiencing a major but identified muscle-wasting condition called sarcopenia badly. Sarcopenia is to our muscles what osteoporosis is to our bones.

Sarcopenia is currently recognized as a disease after being added to Australia’s formal set of diseases, called the (ICD-10-AM). Given the problem may have an effect on almost one-third of old adults locally, it’s about time it’s impact is known and talked about. Fortunately that people with sarcopenia can rebuild their muscle mass and power via power, or resistance training plus some diet modifications. Actually, they are things we can all do to safeguard ourselves. Aging disrupts your body’s ability to produce the proteins had a need to grow or maintain muscles. Once we age, fewer indicators are also delivered from the mind to the muscles, resulting in a reduction in the scale and mass of our muscles.

It’s been estimated that sarcopenia impacts 10-30 percent of old adults residing in the community, differing by age group and ethnicity. This increases to around 40-50 percent in those aged over 80 or residing in nursing homes, or more to 75 percent in older hospital inpatients. Sarcopenia is most common in the elderly but may appear earlier in life also. In our 40s, muscle strength and mass begin to decline, and without intervention such as regular physical exercise, this loss accelerates with age.

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By the age of 70, up to half of muscle mass is lost which is often replaced with excess fat and fibrous cells, particularly in people who are inactive. Sarcopenia is common in people who have other diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Many of the drugs used to treat these conditions can donate to sarcopenia, as they can cause an imbalance in muscle metabolism and disrupt the pathways that control muscle tissue. Yet because many medical researchers have little knowledge of sarcopenia and its consequences, they don’t really necessarily consider or treat age-, diet- or drug-related muscle wasting.

Skeletal muscle is the biggest organ in the torso, creating around 40 percent of body weight. It’s needed for both motion and metabolic functions such as regulating blood glucose levels. So it is unsurprising that sarcopenia is associated with many undesirable health results. Sarcopenia has been associated with impaired mobility, osteoporosis, falls, fractures, frailty, poor outcomes after surgery, institutionalization, hospital admissions, impaired standard of living and premature death. There are currently no approved medications to treat sarcopenia, and research to identify new drugs has been inconclusive. The very best approach we’ve been the level of resistance or weight training, which should be achieved at least twice a week in a mixture with a nutritional (protein-enriched) intervention.

Skeletal muscle has an impressive ability to adapt and regenerate in response to loading. Gains in muscle mass of 5-10 percent and improvements in muscle strength or power of 30-150 percent have been observed after 12 weeks of weight training, even in older nursing home and hospitalized patients and the old.

This is the same as regaining the muscle mass lost over a decade. Everyone will react to resistance-type exercise whether it’s appropriately prescribed, but fewer than 15 percent of older Australians to participate in twice-weekly resistance training. Accredited exercise physiologists are best located to recommend and deliver evidence-based exercise programs for the elderly and the ones with persistent diseases including sarcopenia.

Nutritional factors, such as proteins, are also very important to preserving muscle, especially in old patients who may be malnourished. To ensure an adequate intake of protein each day, most people should aim for someone to three serves of lean meat, poultry, fish/seafood, eggs, nuts/seeds, or legumes. Low vitamin D in addition has been associated with muscle weakness and falls. Sunlight exposure is the main way to get vitamin D, but where appropriate, a health care provider may recommend a vitamin D supplement.

Recognition of sarcopenia as a distinct disease in Australia is crucial to raise awareness of the problem among medical researchers and the wider community. Improved awareness shall lead to better routine treatment for people with sarcopenia. For instance, a GP who identifies an individual with sarcopenia can refer these to a fitness physiologist under a chronic disease management plan, which includes up to five Medicare-rebated sessions with an allied doctor over a twelve months. More broadly, recognition can be an essential step if we will see any changes to public health policy.