According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the human body is susceptible to 10,000 known diseases that can significantly impact one’s health. Of those, 7,000 are rare, meaning the likelihood of contracting them is relatively low. Rounding out the study data, the National Institutes of Health notes that only 500 of these known diseases are treatable. And one of these treatable, but not necessarily rare, diseases is sarcopenia, a medical condition characterized by a gradual loss of muscle mass and muscle function. While it can affect anyone, irrespective of age, sarcopenia is far more common among older adults. To put this into perspective, we only have to take a look at a study published by ResearchGate, which, by the way, is the largest and most respected scholarly social network in the world. The study revealed that an estimated 5 to 13 percent of adults between age 60 and 70 in America have some form of sarcopenia. The disease is even more prevalent among those in their 80s or older, averaging around 11 to 50 percent.
Sarcopenia: Causes and Symptoms of Muscle Loss Among Older Adults
Aging is the primary cause of sarcopenia; however, it can also be brought on or made worse by a lack of physical activity or a hormonal imbalance, such as low testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), or insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels. But it does not end there; multiple studies have found that the following can also play a role in the development or worsening of sarcopenia in older adults:
- Poor communication between cells in the body and the brain
- The body not being able to convert protein to energy
- Consuming too little in the way of calories or protein to support and maintain muscle
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), most men and women lose between 3 and 8 percent of muscle mass every year. By the time they are in their 60s, many have already lost as much as 20 percent of their muscle mass. This dramatic loss of muscle mass usually points to sarcopenia. And it can make even normal day-to-day activities, such as climbing stairs, lifting things, and walking, exceedingly difficult. The disease can also increase an individual’s chances of falling and suffering fractured bones. Along with finding it difficult to climb stairs, lift things, and walk, many people with sarcopenia say they have experienced the following:
- A decline in stamina
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle weakness
- Poor coordination
- Weight loss
How Being Overweight or Obese Can Lead to Sarcopenia
While sarcopenia is more common among older adults, it can also occur in young adults if they are overweight or obese. Along with an increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and joint problems, being overweight or obese can lead to sarcopenic obesity (SO). And this is especially true if low testosterone or low growth hormone levels contributed to excess weight. To better understand what this means, it helps to know a little more about the body mass index (BMI).
For those unaware, the body mass index is the sum of a man or woman’s body weight measured in kilograms and then divided by their square height measured in meters. Bearing that in mind, an individual with a BMI that falls between 25 and 29.9 is deemed overweight. Meanwhile, those who have a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. To lower the risk of sarcopenic obesity, individuals, irrespective of age, should strive to maintain a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, which is in line with a normal and healthy weight. According to a study published by Frontiers Media SA, a peer-reviewed and open access scientific journal, excessive amounts of body fat can cause adverse changes in skeletal lipid metabolism, insulin resistance, and even inflammatory pathways. And all of this can trigger sarcopenic obesity.
Most people will schedule an appointment with their physician when they experience significant muscle loss that impedes their ability to perform everyday tasks, such as those described in this article. During these appointments, a physician will inquire about the symptoms an individual is experiencing and their medical history. From there, he or she will likely recommend a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry exam, which measures bone density. Some may also recommend a walking speed test. These two tests, coupled with the symptoms an individual might be experiencing and their medical history, are the most effective in diagnosing age or obesity-related sarcopenia.
Treatments for Sarcopenia
Something to note regarding sarcopenia is that it is both treatable and reversible. That said, regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat sarcopenia, especially resistance training. According to many primary care physicians and neurologists, resistance training, which typically entails exercising with free weights, medicine balls, or weight machines, can significantly improve muscle strength and slow down muscle loss. Further, these weight-bearing exercises can also aid in improving stamina. Additional ways to treat sarcopenia include the following:
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In addition to regular exercise, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), especially Estrogen replacement drugs, can benefit women diagnosed with sarcopenia and Testosterone Enanthate for sale for men. And this is especially true for those who are going through or have already settled into menopause. In fact, in a study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that estrogen-based HRT not only slows the progression of sarcopenia but also improves muscle mass in menopausal women.
And this is in addition to improving overall strength and protecting women against further muscle damage, the study further revealed. Of course, HRT doesn’t only benefit women with sarcopenia. HRT consisting of testosterone or growth hormone replacement drugs can provide similar benefits for men struggling with the disease, notes a separate study published by the American Physiological Society.
Dietary supplements provide a wide range of health benefits. And preventing, treating, and slightly reversing sarcopenia are among them. Some of these supplements include beta-alanine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB).
In summary, the loss of muscle mass and strength can rob older and, in some cases, young adults of their independence. What’s more, the combination can even trigger more health problems, such as osteoporosis and severe muscle atrophy. Fortunately, there is a plurality of treatments that can help get the disease under control and, in turn, enable individuals to live a long, healthy life.