Clinical definition of sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Although it is primarily a disease of the elderly, its development may be associated with conditions that are not exclusively seen in older persons. Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength and it is strictly correlated with physical disability, poor quality of life and death. Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender and level of physical activity. In conditions such as malignancy, rheumatoid arthritis and aging, lean body mass is lost while fat mass may be preserved or even increased. The loss in muscle mass may be associated with increased body fat so that despite normal weight there is marked weakness, this is a condition called sarcopenic obesity. There is an important correlation between inactivity and losses of muscle mass and strength, this suggests that physical activity should be a protective factor for the prevention but also the management of sarcopenia. Furthermore one of the first step to be taken for a person with sarcopenia or clinical frailty is to ensure that the sarcopenic patient is receiving correct and sufficient nutrition. Sarcopenia has a greater effect on survival. It should be important to prevent or postpone as much as possible the onset of this condition, to enhance survival and to reduce the demand for long-term care. Interventions for sarcopenia need to be developed with most attention on exercise and nutritional interventions.