Sarcopenia and heart failure

Francesco Curcio, Gianluca Testa, Ilaria Liguori, Martina Papillo, Veronica Flocco, Veronica Panicara, Gianluigi Galizia, David Della-Morte, Gaetano Gargiulo, Francesco Cacciatore, Domenico Bonaduce, Francesco Landi, Pasquale Abete

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Modifications of lean mass are a frequent critical determinant in the pathophysiology and progression of heart failure (HF). Sarcopenia may be considered one of the most important causes of low physical performance and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness in older patients with HF. Sarcopenia is frequently misdiagnosed as cachexia. However, muscle wasting in HF has different pathogenetic features in sarcopenic and cachectic conditions. HF may induce sarcopenia through common pathogenetic pathways such as hormonal changes, malnutrition, and physical inactivity; mechanisms that influence each other. In the opposite way, sarcopenia may favor HF development by different mechanisms, including pathological ergoreflex. Paradoxically, sarcopenia is not associated with a sarcopenic cardiac muscle, but the cardiac muscle shows a hypertrophy which seems to be “not-functional.” First-line agents for the treatment of HF, physical activity and nutritional interventions, may offer a therapeutic advantage in sarcopenic patients irrespective of HF. Thus, sarcopenia is highly prevalent in patients with HF, contributing to its poor prognosis, and both conditions could benefit from common treatment strategies based on pharmacological, physical activity, and nutritional approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number211
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cachexia
  • Elderly
  • Heart failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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