Reduced skeletal muscle mass is the most important component of sarcopenia. Aging and chronic diseases, including chronic heart failure, are the causes of reduced skeletal muscle mass. However, little is known about the mechanism of skeletal muscle mass reduction in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The purpose of this study was to assess the associations among skeletal muscle mass reduction, endothelial function, and other markers of advanced vascular damage in CVD patients. This was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis that included 310 inpatients with CVD in our hospital. Flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) was performed to assess early vascular damage, i.e., endothelial dysfunction. The arterial velocity pulse index (AVI) and arterial pressure volume index (API) were assessed to reveal signs of advanced vascular damage, such as arterial stiffening and increased peripheral resistance. The bioelectrical phase angle (PA), as a marker of tissue damage, and the skeletal muscle index (SMI) were measured. Correlation analyses were performed among these parameters. Sarcopenia was diagnosed in 25.5% of patients according to the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia criteria. Greater progression of arterial stiffness, shown by a higher AVI, and more severe tissue damage, shown by a narrower PA, were found in individuals with sarcopenia. Stepwise multivariate regression analysis showed that sex, age, PA, hypertension, and AVI were factors independently correlated with SMI. In conclusion, advanced vascular damage, such as increased arterial stiffness and peripheral resistance, might play an important role in the reduction in skeletal muscle mass, possibly through damage to skeletal muscle tissue in CVD patients.
Keywords: Arterial stiffness; Arteriosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Phase angle; Sarcopenia; Skeletal muscle.