Loss of muscle, weight linked with disability after stroke: Study

Washington: The loss of muscle and body weight can be associated with disability following a stroke, according to a recent study.

“Body wasting in the course of a disease called cachexia is observed in cancer and chronic diseases like heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease,” says Nadja Scherbakov, lead author of the study.

“Stroke is the main cause of adult disability. It is a common understanding that this is all due to brain injury and impaired innervation. Our findings show that the amount of skeletal muscle throughout the body declines after stroke,” adds Scherbakov.

“This opens the door for treatment options such as dietary supplementation and exercise training to prevent muscle wasting after stroke,” adds Scherbakov. The study has been published in ‘Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle.’

The study examined changes in body weight and composition during the year after an ischaemic stroke and their association with disability. The researchers found that 21 per cent of patients had developed cachexia one year later, meaning they had lost at least 5 per cent of their body weight.

This included the loss of 19 per cent of their body fat and 6.5 per cent of their muscle mass. Notably, this body wasting occurred equally in patients with and without limb paresis.

Patients with cachexia had a significantly lower functional capacity and significantly lower handgrip strength than those without cachexia.

“The disability caused by stroke is usually attributed to brain damage, with little attention paid to the effector organ, which is the skeletal muscle. Exercise training is the most promising way to delay or prevent the progression of muscle wasting and may be a therapy option,” says Scherbakov.

“Treatment of cachexia includes dietary supplementation with protein, vitamins and minerals, and might also prevent muscle wasting after stroke,” Scherbakov further explains.

According to researchers, older patients with moderately severe stroke were particularly prone to developing cachexia after a stroke. It is, therefore, very important to monitor their body weight, appetite and nutritional status.