Acute Sarcopenia Secondary to Hospitalisation – An Emerging Condition Affecting Older Adults

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There has been increasing interest and research into sarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults since the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) agreed a consensus definition in 2010. Sarcopenia has been defined as loss of muscle mass with loss of muscle function (strength or physical performance), with measurements two Standard Deviations (SDs) below the mean of a young reference population. This definition does not necessitate longitudinal measurements or the absence of acute illness and diagnosis can be made from single measurements. We hypothesise that hospitalisation, due to a combination of acute inflammatory burden and muscle disuse, leads to an acute decline in muscle mass and function and may lead to some individuals meeting criteria for sarcopenia, acutely, based on the EWGSOP definition. This may be partially recoverable or may lead to increased risk of developing sarcopenia long-term. We have denoted the term “acute sarcopenia” to refer to acute loss of muscle mass and function associated with hospitalisation. This review discusses some of the current available research in this context and also identifies some of the knowledge gaps and potential areas for future research.


Original languageEnglish
JournalAging and Disease
Issue number6
Early online date26 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2017


  • acute illness, hospitalisation, sarcopenia, disuse muscle atrophy, muscle wasting disorders