Objectives: To examine whether low serum albumin is associated with low muscle strength and future decline in muscle strength in community-dwelling older men and women.
Design: Population-based cohort study.
Setting: The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam.
Participants: Six hundred seventy-six women and 644 men aged 65 to 88.
Measurements: Serum albumin was determined at baseline. Muscle strength was assessed using grip strength at baseline, after 3 (n=1,009), and 6 (n=741) years. The outcomes were continuous baseline muscle strength, 3- and 6-year change in muscle strength, and a dichotomous indicator for substantial decline (a decrease if > or =1 standard deviations for women=11 kg, for men=12 kg) in muscle strength.
Results: Mean serum albumin concentration+/-standard deviation was 45.0+/-3.3 g/L for women and 45.2+/-3.2 g/L for men. At baseline, adjusting for age, lifestyle factors, and chronic conditions, lower serum albumin was cross-sectionally associated with weaker muscle strength (P<.001) in women and men. After 3 years of follow-up, mean decline in muscle strength was -5.6+/-10.9 kg in women and -9.6+/-11.9 kg in men. After adjustment for potential confounders, lower serum albumin was associated with muscle strength decline over 3 years (P<.01) in women and men (beta=0.57, standard error (SE)=0.18; beta=0.37, SE=0.16, respectively). Lower serum albumin was also associated with substantial decline in muscle strength in women (per unit albumin (g/L) adjusted odds ratio (OR)=1.14, one-sided 95% confidence limit (CL)=1.07) and men (per unit albumin (g/L) adjusted OR=1.14, 95% CL=1.08). Similar but slightly weaker associations were found between serum albumin and 6-year change in muscle strength (P<.05).
Conclusion: These results suggest that low serum albumin, even within the normal range, is independently associated with weaker muscle strength and future decline in muscle strength in older women and men.