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Skeletal muscle is a large and important organ system in the human body. Disorders and diseases of muscle are common in late life and have a major impact on function and quality of life. Many diseases affect muscle and are considered forms of myopathy. Myopathies are generally considered to be inflammatory or noninflammatory and will be addressed below. Loss of skeletal muscle mass owing to any disease or condition is called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia derives from the Greek and translates as “poverty of flesh.” As a medical term, sarcopenia is nonspecific and can be caused by aging, disuse, wasting illness, or starvation or can be a secondary consequence of ischemia or neuropathy. Table 119-1 describes the characteristics of each of these forms of sarcopenia and highlights implications for care of the older adult. Sarcopenia can also develop in the course of some myopathies. Sarcopenia caused by aging itself is difficult to characterize since aging is often accompanied by the other contributors to loss of muscle described in Table 119-1.

Table 119-1 Conditions that Contribute to Sarcopenia

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