Prevalence and clinical correlates of sarcopenia in institutionalized older people: cross-sectional study of a nursing home population

E. Boetto 1, L. Bianchi 1, F.M. Andolfo 2, E. Maietti 1, S. Volpato 1

1 Department of Medical Science, University of Ferrara, Italy; 2 General Medicine of Monselice (PD), Italy

Background & aims. Sarcopenia is a common condition among institutionalized older people which leads to increased risk of adverse outcomes such as disability and death. We investigated the prevalence and clinical correlates of sarcopenia in older institutionalized adults in Italy, while also evaluating the interchangeability and adequacy of two definitions of sarcopenia (EWGSOP and FNIH) for this geriatric setting.

Methods. Cross-sectional analysis of 97 participants enrolled in a nursing home facility in Italy. Since 97% of the study subjects resulted either unable to walk or “slow walkers”, we assessed sarcopenia presence ignoring the walking speed criterion: sarcopenia was assessed as low appendicular skeletal mass index plus low grip strength (EWGSOP criteria) and as weakness plus low lean mass (FNIH criteria). Skeletal muscle mass was estimated using bioimpendance analysis.

Results. In this population of 97 institutionalized older people (age 83.2 ± 9.4 years, women 73.2%), according to both EWGSOP and FNIH criteria 13 participants (13.4%) were identified as affected by sarcopenia; however, only 5 subjects were identified as sarcopenic according to both definitions simultaneously. The prevalence of sarcopenia was directly correlated with male sex and comorbidity level, while being inversely correlated with Body Mass Index.

Conclusions. According to EWGSOP and FNIH criteria, prevalence of sarcopenia is significant among institutionalized older people, and it’s strongly related to male sex, BMI and comorbidity level. EWGSOP and FNIH criteria identified as sarcopenic different individuals and therefore cannot be used interchangeably. Assessment of walking speed might be unfeasible in institutionalized older subjects.

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