Background: Theoretical definitions of sarcopenia traditionally emphasize age-related loss of muscle strength; however, most analyses of the association between strength and mobility examine strength at a single time point. This study sought to identify sex-specific cutpoints for muscle strength and power (at one time point) and 3-year changes in strength and power that would maximize prediction of 3-year mobility decline.
Methods: Longitudinal analysis of 934 adults aged ≥65 years enrolled in the Invecchiare in Chianti study was conducted. Grip strength, knee extension strength, and lower extremity power were measured at baseline and 3 years postenrollment. Mobility function (gait speed and self-reported mobility disability) was measured at 3 and 6 years postenrollment. Classification and regression tree analysis was used to predict mobility decline from Years 3 to 6.
Results: Men with knee extension strength <19.2 kg and grip strength <39.0 kg had clinically meaningful declines in gait speed of .24 m/s. Furthermore, men with power <105 W were nearly nine times more likely to develop incident mobility disability (likelihood ratio = 8.68; 95% confidence interval = 3.91, 19.44). Among women, knee extension strength <18.0 kg was associated with a minimal gait speed decline of 0.06 m/s, and women with leg power <64 W were three times more likely to develop incident mobility disability (likelihood ratio = 3.01; 95% confidence interval = 1.79, 5.08). Three-year changes in strength and power did not predict mobility decline in either sex.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that strength and power measured at one time point are more predictive of mobility decline than 3-year changes and that low strength and power are particularly powerful risk factors in men.