A new version of how to treat and diagnose age-related muscle mass, or sarcopenia, delves into the differences between examining at-risk populations in the community and facility settings.

The findings by the Asian Consensus Update on Sarcopenia were published in a recent issue of JAMDA and build on previous versions offering clinical recommendations on the condition.

In this latest version, researchers observed that the newest update includes the same definition of sarcopenia detailed in the 2014 consensus: an age-related loss of muscle mass, plus low muscle strength, and/or low physical performance.

“However, the latest consensus has revised the diagnostic algorithm, protocols, and some criteria. It also proposes separate algorithms for community versus hospital settings to facilitate earlier identification of those individuals at risk for sarcopenia,” the authors said. Although skeletal muscle strength and mass are both considered fundamental to a definitive clinical diagnosis of sarcopenia, researchers observed that the 2019 consensus “introduces ‘possible sarcopenia,’ defined by either low muscle strength or low physical performance only, specifically for use in primary health care or community-based health promotion, to enable earlier lifestyle interventions.”

They further observed that while defining sarcopenia by Body Mass Index-adjusted muscle mass instead of height-adjusted muscle mass may predict adverse outcomes better, “more evidence is needed before changing current recommendations.”

Lifestyle interventions, the authors noted, prevail as treatment mainstays. However, they said, “Further research is needed to investigate potential long-term benefits of lifestyle interventions, nutritional supplements, or pharmacotherapy for sarcopenia.”

For definition, low muscle strength is defined as handgrip strength less than 28 kilograms (around 60 pounds) for men and less than 18 kilograms (40 pounds) for women.