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Research reveals those with age-related muscle loss are more likely to fall

25th November 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A study has found that older people who suffer from sarcopenia are more likely to experience falls. The research team at the University of Southampton studied those with the condition, which causes muscle to lose form and function with age, and discovered that they had reported a higher number of falls and prevalence of fractures.

The decline in muscle mass in people between the ages of 40 and 80 is estimated to range between 30 to 60 per cent, although there is no universally accepted criteria to diagnose patients with these symptoms. This means that it is difficult to identify those at risk, meaning devices such as walking aids and stairlifts that help to prevent falls are not utilised by those in danger of having accidents.

A need for a definition for muscle loss diagnosis

Lead author of the study from Southampton’s Medical Research Council (MRC), Dr Michael Clynes said: “All of these definitions recognise that measuring muscle mass in isolation is inadequate and a measure of muscle function is also required, but there are differences in how function is assessed.

“Due to these differences, an individual may receive different diagnosis depending on how he or she is assessed. This is important because the better we can identify sarcopenia, the more insight we have into the health issues and risks patients face.”

In another study published in Calcified Tissue International, it was found that in most cases, those identified with sarcopenia were linked to a higher number of falls and fractures during the previous year. Dysmobility syndrome was more common (affecting 24.8 per cent) and corresponded to a higher number of falls, although this was not true for the fracture rate.

This highlights the importance of finding a definition for sarcopenia, as this will allow health care professionals to target treatments for those who are more at risk of injury.

 

Image Credit: Sylvain Naudin (flickr.com)