Respiratory sarcopenia: A position paper by four professional organizations

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2023 Jan;23(1):5-15. doi: 10.1111/ggi.14519. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


We defined respiratory sarcopenia as a coexistence of respiratory muscle weakness and decreased respiratory muscle mass. Although respiratory muscle function is indispensable for life support, its evaluation has not been included in the regular assessment of respiratory function or adequately evaluated in clinical practice. Considering this situation, we prepared a position paper outlining basic knowledge, diagnostic and assessment methods, mechanisms, involvement in respiratory diseases, intervention and treatment methods, and future perspectives on respiratory sarcopenia, and summarized the current consensus on respiratory sarcopenia. Respiratory sarcopenia is diagnosed when respiratory muscle weakness and decreased respiratory muscle mass are observed. If respiratory muscle mass is difficult to measure, we can use appendicular skeletal muscle mass as a surrogate. Probable respiratory sarcopenia is defined when respiratory muscle weakness and decreased appendicular skeletal muscle mass are observed. If only respiratory muscle strength is decreased without a decrease in respiratory function, the patient is diagnosed with possible respiratory sarcopenia. Respiratory muscle strength is assessed using maximum inspiratory pressure and maximum expiratory pressure. Ultrasonography and computed tomography are commonly used to assess respiratory muscle mass; however, there are insufficient data to propose the cutoff values for defining decreased respiratory muscle mass. It was jointly prepared by the representative authors and authorized by the Japanese Society for Respiratory Care and Rehabilitation, Japanese Association on Sarcopenia and Frailty, Japanese Society of Respiratory Physical Therapy and Japanese Association of Rehabilitation Nutrition. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2023; 23: 5-15.

Keywords: diaphragm; muscle; rehabilitation; respiration; sarcopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Respiratory Muscles
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia* / therapy