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Low Muscle Mass in the Arms, Legs Tied to Mortality in Elderly

Muscle mass more predictive of mortality than visceral fat, total fat in older women

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Low muscle mass is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk in the elderly, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Felipe M. de Santana, from Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues evaluated 839 community-dwelling older individuals (≥65 years; 516 women) using a questionnaire, clinical data, laboratory exams, and body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Both total fat and its components (visceral adipose tissue) were estimated. To determine low muscle mass, researchers adjusted for fat and appendicular lean mass divided by height.

During a mean 4.06 years of follow-up, there were 132 deaths. In an adjusted analysis, the researchers found a significant increase among men in all-cause mortality risk with the presence of low muscle mass (odds ratio, 11.36) and visceral adipose tissue (odds ratio, 1.99 for each 100-gram increase). However, total fat, measured by the fat mass index, was associated with a decreased mortality risk (odds ratio, 0.48). There were similar results for cardiovascular mortality. In women, the only predictor of all-cause or cardiovascular death was low muscle mass (odds ratios, 62.88 and 74.54, respectively).

"These findings highlight the importance of body composition by DXA as a promising tool for the evaluation of sarcopenia, body fat, and mortality risk in older adults," the authors write.

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