• Dr. Loïse

Sarcopenia Treatments and Therapies

Reduce the symptoms of sarcopenia by leading a healthier life.


As sarcopenia affects a significant portion of the population over 60 years old and as life expectancy continues to grow, addressing the symptoms of sarcopenia is of great importance! By making these simple changes to your life, you will be able to improve your quality of life.

Treatments and therapies for sarcopenia are divided into 3 major categories:

  1. exercise

  2. diet

  3. pharmaceuticals


Exercise


Exercise is a powerful medicine that can help mitigate the symptoms of a variety of conditions afflicting the aging population including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and more. Exercise has been proven to improve the symptoms of sarcopenia and increase the quality of life of afflicted individuals.


"Exercise is a powerful medicine that can help mitigate the symptoms of a variety of conditions afflicting the aging population including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and more."

In particular, strength training and balance exercises are crucial to maintain and potentially increase skeletal muscle mass. Balance exercises help with overall lower body strength and fall prevention.

The following video gives you a few exercises, well explained, which you can try at home. If you do not have a band, either skip the exercises or try them without the band.



If you are up for a challenge, you can try this next video which is a full body workout of higher intensity compared to the video above. Always remember to breathe and go at your own pace and take breaks whenever you need to. Also stop for water from time to time. Enjoy!



It has been shown that regular light to moderate intensity exercise helps improve the symptoms of sarcopenia. Exercise also has other benefits, including improved mental health, reduced risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, improved focus and better mobility and flexibility.

"Exercise also has other benefits, including improved mental health, reduced risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, improved focus and better mobility and flexibility."

Therefore, it is highly recommended to exercise at least 1-2 a week in a group setting, as peer support is also a important factor, when it comes to sticking with an exercise program or a class.


Diet


Changes in diet has mixed results when it comes to improving quality of life due to sarcopenia (Cruz-Jentoft, 2014). It is well known that increasing protein intake while exercising more can increase muscle mass (Millward, 2012 and Robinson, 2018). However, as we get older, our ability to take in the amino acids from proteins to help build muscles decreases which is the major reason why protein supplements do not significantly help in the treatment of sarcopenia. Older adults can still take protein supplements but eating healthy foods packed with proteins can be as beneficial. Therefore, eating healthy (not over-eating and focusing on non-processed foods) should be a main focus of any individual, but particularly individuals with sarcopenia.


Pharmaceuticals


As for today, there are a few drugs which are undergoing clinical trial for the treatment or improvement of sarcopenia. The majority of the drugs considered for clinical trial involve manipulation of hormones including supplementation with testosterone as testosterone is known to increase skeletal muscle mass (Dennison, 2017)). Testosterone has well known side-effects which make it difficult to use as treatment on the long run. Another pathway that is being considered is myostatin. Myostatin is an inhibitor of muscle growth. Inhibition of myostatin could result in in muscle mass gains. Myostatin inhibitors are currently in phase II clinical trials. For more information, please refer to the article Epidemiology of sarcopenia and insights into possible therapeutic targets published by Dennison et al in Nature Reviews, Rheumatology in 2017.


 

References

Cruz-Jentoft, A. J., Landi, F., Schneider, S. M., Zúñiga, C., Arai, H., Boirie, Y., . . . Cederholm, T. (2014). Prevalence of and interventions for sarcopenia in ageing adults: A systematic review. Report of the international sarcopenia initiative (EWGSOP and IWGS). Age and Ageing, 43(6), 748-759. doi:10.1093/ageing/afu115


Dennison, E. M., Sayer, A. A., & Cooper, C. (2017). Epidemiology of sarcopenia and insight into possible therapeutic targets. Nature Reviews. Rheumatology, 13(6), 340-347. doi:10.1038/nrrheum.2017.60


Millward, D. J. (2012). Nutrition and sarcopenia: Evidence for an interaction. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71(4), 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0029665112000201


Robinson, S. M., Reginster, J. Y., Rizzoli, R., Shaw, S. C., Kanis, J. A., Bautmans, I., . . . ESCEO working group. (2018). Does nutrition play a role in the prevention and management of sarcopenia? Clinical Nutrition, 37(4), 1121-1132. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2017.08.016


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