Loss of muscle mass

Loss of muscle mass

Loss of muscle mass, otherwise known as muscle atrophy, occurs when muscle cells shrink or degrade due to lack of use or illness. Muscle atrophy can start within weeks if muscles are not actively used or stimulated regularly in some way. Loss of muscle mass leads to reduced strength and mobility, increased fatigability and falls risk. The medical term for severe muscle loss is cachexia.

There are two main causes of muscle atrophy and loss of muscle mass. These include:

  1. Disuse atrophy
    Muscles need stimulation and activity in order to maintain their structure and mass. Prolonged immobilization e.g. due to casting, bed rest or sedentary lifestyle causes the body to down-regulate its synthesis of muscle fibers and proteins. Disuse atrophy can start to develop within 1-2 weeks of immobilization leading to muscle weakness loss of up to 20% in just 2 weeks!

  2. Disease-related muscle atrophy
    Illness-related factors causing muscle atrophy include:

- Starvation or fasting / excessive weight loss dieting causes the body to break down muscle for energy and also muscle loss.
- Inflammation from diseases like arthritis, cancer, heart disease and COPD
- Use of corticosteroid drugs to treat various conditions like asthma
- Nerve or neuromuscular function loss from nerve injury or disorders like ALS
- Aging: Muscle mass declines with age at a rate of 3-8% per decade after 30 years of age as hormones regulating muscle mass are reduced.

Strategies to prevent and regain muscle mass as you age
The friendly staff at Hormone Wellness Institute can assist with a personalized anti-aging program, including hormone replacement tailored to your needs, to help you maintain and grow muscle mass.

Some key strategies recommended by Dr Ryan at Hormone Wellness Institute include:

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