The prevalence of dysphagia in community-dwelling older adults is reported to be around 15%. Outside of common neurological causes such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, recent studies have suggested that sarcopenia may be an independent risk factor for the presence of dysphagia. Sarcopenia is characterised by the generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass that may occur in older adults. The authors used data from the Korean Longitudinal Study on Health and Aging to explore associations between sarcopenia and dysphagia. Of the 992 participants included in the longitudinal study, the authors were able to perform analysis on 236 people for whom they completed prospective standardised assessments for both dysphagia and sarcopenia. Patients with other risk factors for dysphagia were excluded from regression analysis, along with those who did not consent to participation, died during the study, or did not complete both the assessments. The average age of people in this study was 76.6 years, with 48% being males. Overall, 54 adults (23%) demonstrated dysphagia and 38 (16%) were found to have sarcopenia. Based on their regression analysis, the authors found that sarcopenia was the only significant risk factor for dysphagia in Korean older adults who do not present with other common etiologies. The study showed that the risk for dysphagia was 2.7 times higher in people with sarcopenia compared to those without sarcopenia. In addition, the authors make recommendations for larger studies to confirm these findings in other populations. They draw attention to possible interventions for ’sarcopenic dysphagia’ such as: exercises to improve strength and function of swallowing musculature; resistance training; and taking essential amino acid supplements. Clinical trials to determine efficacy and effectiveness of such interventions will be necessary.

Sarcopenia is an Independent Risk Factor for Dysphagia in Community‑Dwelling Older Adults.
Seungwoo C, Won‑Seok K, Woong KK, et al.
DYSPHAGIA
2019;34(5):692-7.
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Roganie Govender

University College London Hospital, Head & Neck Academic Centre, UK.

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