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Screening and identifying sarcopenia in primary care

Linda Nazarko explains what sarcopenia is, how it affects adults and how it is diagnosed

Around 2.7 million people in the UK have sarcopenia. This loss of muscle mass mostly affects older people. As our population ages it is set to become more common and to contribute to rising levels of frailty in older people. An estimated 14% of people aged 65-70 have sarcopenia, around 25% of those aged 75-84 and 53% of those aged 85 and over. Figure one, based on ONS data and prevalence data illustrates population ageing and levels of sarcopenia.1,2,3

What is sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is a term derived from the Greek words sarx (flesh) and penia (lack of). The term sarcopenia was first used in 1989 by Irwin Rosenberg to describe age-related decrease of muscle mass.4 He asked if sarcopenia was an age-related loss of muscle mass and function, a disease, or a normal part of the ageing process.5

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