Longevity Briefs: Improved Screening For Age-Related Muscle Loss

Posted on 11 September 2020

Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Sarcopenia is a gradual loss of both muscle quantity and strength in older adults, increasing the risk of falls, fractures, hospitalisations and overall mortality. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) can be used to measure muscle mass, but this test requires the use of an X-ray machine, limiting its availability. Portable ultrasound devices, on the other hand, can measure muscle thickness, and might provide an additional screening tool for sarcopenia.

What did the researchers do: Researchers wanted to see if muscle thickness measured by ultrasound was well correlated with muscle strength in older adults. They measured grip strength, biceps circumference and gait speed in 150 over 65s and compared these measurements with muscle thickness and mass.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: Muscle thickness is strongly correlated with muscle mass and grip strength, but not gait speed. Although more work needs to be done, ultrasound shows potential as a screening tool for sarcopenia.

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