Sarcopenia Hits All of Us but Only 3% Are Aware, Experts Reveal

July 2017

Ageing

Country of origin: UK

The vast majority of older people have never heard of a condition that affects all of us after 45, according to new research.
Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, is responsible for making us tired and weak as we age. But only 3% of the 1,033 people surveyed knew what it was without being prompted.

The study by over-50s supplement brand Prime Fifty explores the health and wellbeing of over 50s in Britain, revealing their habits, worries and activities.

When people were asked about their top health concerns, muscle wastage was far down the list at number fifteen. Instead, respondents were more preoccupied with other niggles, including “putting on weight” and “feeling less positive”.

The top health concern was “aching joints”, worrying one in two over-50s. But joints are also affected by sarcopenia, according to expert Dr Leigh Breen: 'Our joints are supported by muscles, and so age-related muscle loss has a significant effect. Sarcopenia causes joints to come under more strain and stress, which may contribute to aches and stiffness.'

'Sarcopenia is caused by several factors,' added Dr Breen, from the University of Birmingham's Centre for Musculo-skeletal Ageing Research.

'From the age of 45, adults typically start losing an average of 1% of their muscle mass every year,. That might not sound like much, but by the age of 65 that's about a quarter of your body's muscle gone.'

'What is most concerning is that even greater muscle loss is seen when older individuals undergo periods where they can't use their muscles, for example during a stay in hospital.'

'This is the major reason for weakness in old age. As a result of this muscle loss, moving around gets more difficult, falls become more common and we may find it harder to maintain our balance. Up to a quarter of over 65's and over half of those over 80 are affected by sarcopenia, but it's condition that has received very little attention - virtually no-one has heard of it.'

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