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Understanding sarcopenia as a geriatric syndrome

Cruz-Jentoft, Alfonso Ja; Landi, Francescob; Topinková, Evac; Michel, Jean-Pierred

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: January 2010 - Volume 13 - Issue 1 - p 1–7
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328333c1c1
Ageing: biology and nutrition: Edited by Ronni Chernoff and Tommy Cederholm

Purpose of review Highly prevalent in the population older than 65 years and leading to poor outcomes (functional decline and its related consequences), sarcopenia does not benefit yet either of a clear understanding of its pathophysiology or of precise clinical or biological markers allowing its identification.

Recent findings The new scientific definition of ‘geriatric syndromes’ challenges the authors to review the current sarcopenia literature, allowing them to affirm that sarcopenia cannot be considered as an age-related disease but as a true ‘geriatric syndrome’. More than 50% of the population older than 80 years suffer from this medical condition, which is linked to multiple causations: the ageing process itself, genetic susceptibility, certain life habits, changes in living conditions and a number of chronic diseases. Moreover, sarcopenia favours poor outcomes such as mobility disorders, disability, poor quality of life and death.

Summary Considering sarcopenia as a geriatric syndrome allows us to request its recognition and assess its multiple risk factors, to implement a clinical and public health approach to the management of sarcopenic patients and population at risk and to disentangle the links among sarcopenia, frailty, disability and mortality.

aServicio de Geriatría, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain

bDepartment of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Roma, Italy

cDepartment of Geriatrics, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague and General Faculty Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic

dDepartment of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, Geneva Medical School and University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland

Correspondence to Dr Alfonso J. Cruz-Jentoft, Servicio de Geriatría, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Ctra. Colmenar km 9,1, 28034 Madrid, Spain Tel: +34 913368431; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.