Background & aims. Sarcopenia is a clinical condition characterized by progressive and generalized loss of muscle mass and muscular force, accompanied by an elevated risk of adverse events. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the prevalence of sarcopenia amongst geriatric patients and to analyse its impact on functional impairment, short-term and long-term outcome.
Methods. A longitudinal observational study of geriatric patients hospitalized in the Internal Medicine Ward of the University Hospital of Siena (Italy) was realized. The patients were divided into two groups in relation to the presence of sarcopenia, assessed using the 2010 diagnostic criteria of the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People. Association between sarcopenia and functional impairment (evaluated through multidimensional geriatric evaluation) and also impact of sarcopenia on length of stay (LOS), in-hospital mortality, readmissions and mortality at one year from discharge was evaluated.
Results. A total of 119 patients were included (50.4% females), the average age was 82.8 ± 7. The prevalence of sarcopenia was 38.7%. The overall level of autonomy of sarcopenic patients was significantly worse compared to the non-sarcopenic group and the majority of them were more frequently defined as malnourished or at risk of malnutrition (chi-2; p < 0.001). The average LOS was 12.8 ± 7.4, significantly longer for sarcopenic patients (15.1 ± 9.7 vs 11.4 ± 5; Mann-Whitney; p < 0.001). Sarcopenic patients had 3.2 times higher probability to go through readmissions (OR:3.2; p < 0.05; CI: 1.19-8.54) and 4.6 times greater probability to die (OR: 4.6; p < 0.005; CI 1.74-12.04) during the one year following the hospitalization.
Conclusions. Sarcopenia was associated with cognitive and functional impairment and represented a risk factor for prolonged LOS, readmissions and mortality during one-year after discharge.