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The prevalence and impact of sarcopenia in older cardiac patients undergoing inpatient cardiac rehabilitation – results from a prospective, observational cohort pre-study.

The prevalence of sarcopenia and its impact in older patients undergoing inpatient cardiac rehabilitation (iCR) after cardiac procedure has been insufficiently studied. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of sarcopenia and quantify the functional capacity of older sarcopenic and non-sarcopenic patients participating in iCR.

Prospective, observational cohort study within the framework of the ongoing multicenter prehabilitation study "PRECOVERY". A sample of 122 patients ≥75 years undergoing iCR after cardiac procedure were recruited in four German iCR facilities and followed up 3 months later by telephone.

At iCR (baseline), the Strength, Assistance with walking, Rise from a chair, Climb stairs and Falls (SARC-F) questionnaire was used to identify sarcopenic patients. In addition, Katz-Index, Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS), handgrip strength (HGS), Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) measured functional capacity and frailty at baseline.

Outcomes were prevalence of sarcopenia and the correlation of sarcopenia to functional capacity and frailty at baseline as well as the SARC-F score at follow-up. The Wilcoxon test was applied for pre-post-test analysis.

Correlation between sarcopenia and 6MWD, SPPB score and HGS was tested with the eta coefficient with one-way ANOVA. Complete assessments were collected from 101 patients (79.9 ± 4.0 years; 63% male).

At baseline, the mean SARC-F score was 2.7 ± 2.1; 35% with sarcopenia. Other baseline results were Katz-Index 5.7 ± 0.9, CFS 3.2 ± 1.4, HGS 24.9 ± 9.9 kg, SPPB score 7.5 ± 3.3 and 6MWD 288.8 ± 136.5 m.

Compared to baseline, fewer patients were sarcopenic (23% versus 35%) at follow-up. In the subgroup of sarcopenic patients at baseline (n = 35), pre-post comparison resulted in a significant SARC-F improvement (p = 0.017).

There was a significant correlation between sarcopenia measured by SARC-F and poor results in the assessments of functional capacity (p < 0.001; r > 0.546). The prevalence of sarcopenia in older patients at iCR after cardiac procedure is high (35%) and remains high at follow-up (23%).

Sarcopenia screening is important since the diagnosis of sarcopenia in these patients correlates significantly with poor functional capacity. The results indicate that these patients may benefit from prehabilitation aimed at improving perioperative outcomes, increasing functional capacity and mitigating adverse effects.

German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS; ; DRKS00032256). Retrospectively registered on 13 July 2023.

Stephan von Haehling


Universitätsmedizin Göttingen



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Cardiovascular Diseases
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