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The Evolution of Sarcopenia: Could muscle health be the most important determinant for healthy ageing?


TSI Pharmaceuticals, Queensland, Australia


Our global population is rapidly ageing, and we are living longer. While higher life expectancy is something to be celebrated, it also means we are at risk of developing age-related diseases. Osteoporosis has been on the mainstream health agenda for the past two decades and has led to much better diagnosis and management of the condition. But what about muscle health? Skeletal muscle mass is responsible for our ability to move, to function and is essential to overall health and wellbeing. We now know that muscle mass begins to decline from around the age of thirty. The implications of this decline, compounded over many years as we age can have huge health and quality of life implications. By analysing and mapping the history of osteoporosis, we can predict how sarcopenia is likely to evolve. Through this understanding, we can accelerate the development and management of Sarcopenia and collaborate to develop innovative solutions to enhance quality of life outcomes. Diet and resistance exercise are critical factors in preserving muscle health as we age. The naturally occurring metabolite, beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) is also emerging as an effective treatment for muscle health.

The world’s population is ageing, and we are living longer than ever before (1). As we live longer, our risk for developing age-related diseases and conditions increases. This includes macular degeneration, cognitive decline, osteoporosis, and the lesser-known condition; sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a geriatric syndrome characterised by a loss of muscle mass, strength and function (2). The term was first proposed by Irwin Rosenburg in 1989, combining the Greek ‘sarx’ or flesh with ‘penia’ meaning loss. Rosenberg fervently   stated that “no single feature of age-related decline is more striking than the decline in lean body mass which affects ambulation, mobility, energy intake, overall nutrient intake and status, independence and breathing” (3).
However, it wasn’t until only recently that it was recognised as an independent condition when in 2016 it was given an International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) Code (4). This was a milestone event, changing the mindset from being an unavoidable part of normal ageing to a pathology. With this official disease classification, ...

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