As the first update of 2018, the Glisten group wants to highlight the importance of sarcopenia in the hospital. Two recent studies, the result of research by the GLISTEN group, have shown how the problem of sarcopenia is significant in the hospital, both in terms of prevalence at the time of admission, and incidence during the days of hospitalization.

Prevalence of sarcopenia in hospital

Prevalence and Clinical Correlates of Sarcopenia, Identified According to the EWGSOP Definition and Diagnostic Algorithm, in Hospitalized Older People: The GLISTEN Study. Bianchi L, Abete P, Bellelli G, Bo M, Cherubini A, Corica F, Di Bari M, Maggio M, Manca GM, Rizzo MR, Rossi AP, Landi F, Volpato S; GLISTEN Group Investigators. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Oct 12;72(11):1575-1581.


Background: Prevalence of sarcopenia is substantial in most geriatrics settings, but estimates vary greatly across studies because of difference in population characteristics, diagnostic criteria, and methods used to assess muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance. We investigated the feasibility of the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) algorithm assessment in hospitalized older adults and analyzed prevalence and clinical correlates of sarcopenia.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of 655 participants enrolled in a multicenter observational study of older adults admitted to 12 acute hospital wards in Italy. Sarcopenia was assessed as low skeletal mass index (kg/m2) plus either low handgrip strength or low walking speed (EWGSOP criteria). Skeletal muscle mass was estimated using bioimpedance analysis.

Results: Of the 655 patients (age 81.0 ± 6.8 years; women 51.9%) enrolled in the study, 275 (40.2%) were not able to perform the 4-m walking test because of medical problems. The overall prevalence of sarcopenia on hospital admission was 34.7% (95% confidence interval 28–37) and it steeply increased with aging (p < .001). In multivariable analysis, patients with sarcopenia on hospital admission were older and were more likely to be male and to have congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, and severe basic activities of daily living disability. The prevalence of sarcopenia was inversely correlated with body mass index.

Conclusion: Based on EWGSOP criteria, prevalence of sarcopenia is extremely high among older adults on admission to acute hospital wards. Older age, male gender, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, severe activities of daily living disability, and body mass index were the clinical variables significantly associated with the presence of sarcopenia.

Incidence of sarcopenia in hospital

The incidence of sarcopenia among hospitalized older patients: results from the Glisten study. Martone AM, Bianchi L, Abete P, Bellelli G, Bo M, Cherubini A, Corica F, Di Bari M, Maggio M, Manca GM, Marzetti E, Rizzo MR, Rossi A, Volpato S, Landi F. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2017 Dec; 8 (6): 907-914.


Background: New evidence is emerging on the importance of lean body mass during periods of illness and recovery. The preservation of lean body mass during such periods of intense stress impacts both patient and treatment outcomes. However, data concerning the incidence of sarcopenia among older people during hospitalization are scarce. The objective of this study was to evaluate the development of sarcopenia in a sample of hospitalized older subjects.

Methods: We used data of 394 participants from the multicentre Italian Study conducted by the Gruppo Lavoro Italiano Sarcopenia—Trattamento e Nutrizione (GLISTEN) in 12 Acute Care Wards (Internal Medicine and Geriatrics) of University Hospitals across Italy. This study was designed to determine the prevalence of sarcopenia at hospital admission and the change in muscle mass and strength during hospitalization. Sarcopenia was defined as low skeletal mass index (kg/m2) along with either low handgrip strength or slow walking speed [European Working Groups on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) criteria]. Estimation of skeletal muscle mass was performed by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

Results: The mean age of the 394 enrolled patients (including 211 females who accounted for 53% of the sample) was 79.6 ± 6.4 years. Among those without sarcopenia at hospital admission, 14.7% of the study sample met the EWGSOP sarcopenia diagnostic criteria at discharge. The incidence of sarcopenia during hospitalization was significantly associated with the number of days spent in bed but was not correlated with the total length of hospital stay. In particular, patients who developed sarcopenia spent an average of 5.1 days in bed compared with 3.2 days for those with no sarcopenia at discharge (P = 0.02). Patients with sarcopenia showed a significantly lower body mass index compared with non-sarcopenic peers (25.0 ± 3.8 kg/m2 vs. 27.6 ± 4.9 kg/m2, respectively; P < 0.001). Similarly, the skeletal mass index at admission was significantly lower among patients who developed sarcopenia during hospital stay.

Conclusions: Incident sarcopenia during hospital stay is relatively common and is associated with nutritional status and the number of days of bed rest.


Considering together the results of these two studies, it can be stated that at the time of hospital discharge, the prevalence of sarcopenia is 50% (35% at admission plus 15% of onset during hospital stay). In summary, a one out of two patient has sarcopenia at the time of hospital discharge.