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Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle strength, mass, and function, which is often exacerbated by chronic comorbidities including cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. Sarcopenia is associated with faster progression of cardiovascular diseases and higher risk of mortality, falls, and reduced quality of life, particularly among older adults. Although the pathophysiologic mechanisms are complex, the broad underlying cause of sarcopenia includes an imbalance between anabolic and catabolic muscle homeostasis with or without neuronal degeneration. The intrinsic molecular mechanisms of aging, chronic illness, malnutrition, and immobility are associated with the development of sarcopenia. Screening and testing for sarcopenia may be particularly important among those with chronic disease states. Early recognition of sarcopenia is important because it can provide an opportunity for interventions to reverse or delay the progression of muscle disorder, which may ultimately impact cardiovascular outcomes. Relying on body mass index is not useful for screening because many patients will have sarcopenic obesity, a particularly important phenotype among older cardiac patients. In this review, we aimed to: (1) provide a definition of sarcopenia within the context of muscle wasting disorders; (2) summarize the associations between sarcopenia and different cardiovascular diseases; (3) highlight an approach for a diagnostic evaluation; (4) discuss management strategies for sarcopenia; and (5) outline key gaps in knowledge with implications for the future of the field.


body mass index, cardiovascular diseases, older adults, sarcopenia



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