Imagine a condition that not only causes loss of muscle strength but also shortens life expectancy.
Well, unfortunately, that condition is real — it’s called sarcopenia — and it can lower quality of life and lead to an early death. It makes tasks more difficult and can mean patients who have it may lose their ability to live independently.
There are a number of factors that can cause the condition, including age. Let’s take a closer look at sarcopenia and what you should know about it.
#1 It Commonly Occurs with Aging
The condition is typically found in about 10 percent of patients aged 50 or older. However, the prevalence increases up to 13 percent in those aged 65 and up, and up to 50 percent in those aged 80 or higher.
There is a natural loss of muscle strength as a person ages. In fact, after middle age, adults can lose an average of 3 percent of their muscle strength per year. This can severely limit the types of activities they can take part in.
With sarcopenia, the natural secretion of hormones that control muscle growth and degeneration to keep growth in balance is disturbed. That means the degeneration overtakes the growth, leading to muscle loss.
#2 Lack of Activity Leads to Loss of Muscle Strength
There are some factors outside of aging that causes muscle loss, that a patient has some control over.
For example, leading a sedentary lifestyle (meaning life without regular activity) can accelerate the condition. This can be caused by not following regular routines of walking and other exercises. But it can also be caused by an injury or being confined to a bed, which is more common among the elderly.
The problem is made worse by the fact that lack of activity affects muscle strength, which in turn makes it more difficult to engage in exercise.
#3 An Unbalanced Diet Can Contribute to the Problem
Those who have a diet that is low in calories and protein could be at higher risk for sarcopenia.
While it might seem easy to correct, many aging people have barriers such as decreased appetite or problems with their oral health that can impact how they chew.
#4 It Can Be Associated with Other Health Problems
Patients who have underlying health issues may be at higher risk of developing sarcopenia. Diseases that cause inflammation such as COPD can throw off the balance of growth/teardown hormones.
Other conditions that can lead to muscle loss include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn’s disease.
Meanwhile, heart failure and liver disease increase stress on the body, which can also be a trigger for sarcopenia. Cancer and related treatment can also cause muscle degeneration.
#5 You Can Fight It
There’s not much you can do about aging. But if you have sarcopenia you can try light exercises such as walking and gentle resistance training.
You can also ensure you get more protein and amino acids from what you eat by consuming fish and eggs. Be sure to get vitamin D through sun exposure or supplements.
Get Serious About Sarcopenia
Loss of muscle strength is normal for older adults, but by engaging in the right exercises and eating the right foods, you can slow it down and even reverse it.
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