Prevalence and risk factors of sarcopenia among nursing home older residents

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Jan;67(1):48-55. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr035. Epub 2011 Mar 10.


Background and aims: Sarcopenia has been indicated as a reliable marker of frailty and poor prognosis among the oldest individuals. At present, there are no data on sarcopenia in nursing home population. We evaluated the prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with functional and clinical status in a population of elderly persons aged 70 years and older living in nursing homes.

Methods: This study was conducted selecting all the participants (n = 122) living in the teaching nursing homes of Catholic University of Rome who were aged 70 years and older from August 1, 2010, to September 30, 2010. The European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) criteria were adopted. Accordingly, diagnosis of sarcopenia required the documentation of low muscle mass plus the documentation of either low muscle strength or low physical performance.

Results: Forty residents (32.8%) were identified as affected by sarcopenia. The multivariate logistic regression analysis showed a high increase in risk of sarcopenia for male residents (odds ratio [OR] 13.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.51-50.63) and for residents affected by cerebrovascular disease (OR 5.16; 95% CI 1.03-25.87) or osteoarthritis (OR 7.24; 95% CI 2.02-25.95). Residents who had a body mass index higher than 21 kg/m(2) had a lower risk to be sarcopenic (OR 0.76; 95% CI 0.64-0.90) relative to those with body mass index less than 21 kg/m(2). Similarly, sarcopenia was less likely to be present among participants involved in leisure physical activity for 1 hour or more per day (OR 0.40; 95% CI 0.12-0.98).

Conclusions: The present study suggests that among participants living in nursing homes, sarcopenia is highly prevalent and it is more represented among male residents (68%) than among female residents (21%). Our findings support the hypothesis that muscle mass is strongly associated with nutritional status and physical activity in nursing homes, too.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / complications
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscle Weakness / epidemiology
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology*
  • Sarcopenia / etiology
  • Sex Factors