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JFSF Vol 3, No 3, September 2018, p.128-131

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-03-128


Original Article

The prevalence of sarcopenia in fallers and those at risk of falls in a secondary care falls unit as measured by bioimpedance analysis

Katherine Sarah Barnes1, Barbara Smeed1, Rachael Taylor1, Victoria Hood2, Katherine Brooke-Wavell3, Adrian Slee4, Jesper Ryg5, Tahir Masud1

  1. Department of Geriatric Medicine, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  2. Department of Academic Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. School of Sport, Exercise and Health sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  4. Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, Royal Free Medical School, University College London, London, UK
  5. Department of Geriatric Medicine, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

Keywords: Sarcopenia, Falls, Bio-impedance, Prevalence, Muscle


Objectives: Sarcopenia is characterised by loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength with adverse outcomes: physical disability, poor quality of life and death. Low muscle mass and strength are risk factors for falls, although there are few data available on the prevalence of sarcopenia in fallers. This study aimed to determine prevalence of sarcopenia in older people referred to a falls clinic. Methods: Consecutive patients referred to a secondary care falls unit were recruited. Sarcopenia was diagnosed using the European Working Group on Sarcopenia definition (low muscle mass and function) and cut-off points. Bio-impedance measured appendicular skeletal muscle mass. Gait speed and grip strength were functional measures. Results: Fifty-eight patients were recruited. Mean (SD) grip strength for women and men respectively were 17.9 (4.9) and 29.9(8.7) kg, mean (SD) gait speeds were 0.61(0.18) and 0.72 (0.4) m/s, mean (SD) appendicular skeletal muscle index in women and men were 6.98(1.0) and 7.85 (1.0) kg/m2 (p=0.018). Prevalence of sarcopenia was 9.8% (95% CI=1.6%-18%). Conclusions: Sarcopenia, as measured by bio-impedance is not uncommon in older people accessing a secondary care falls clinic. Bio-impedance was simple to perform, although further validation against gold standard methods is needed. As nutritional and exercise interventions for sarcopenia are available, simple methods for diagnosing sarcopenia in fallers should be considered.