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Sarcopenia and muscle weakness are responsible for considerable health care expenditure but little is known about these costs in the UK. To address this, we estimated the excess economic burden for individuals with muscle weakness regarding the provision of health and social care among 442 men and women (aged 71-80 years) who participated in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (UK). Muscle weakness, characterised by low grip strength, was defined according to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health criteria (men < 26 kg, women < 16 kg). Costs associated with primary care consultations and visits, outpatient and inpatient secondary care, medications, and formal (paid) as well as informal care for each participant were calculated. Mean total costs per person and their corresponding components were compared between groups with and without muscle weakness. Prevalence of muscle weakness in the sample was 11%. Mean total annual costs for participants with muscle weakness were £4592 (CI £2962-£6221), with informal care, inpatient secondary care and primary care accounting for the majority of total costs (38%, 23% and 19%, respectively). For participants without muscle weakness, total annual costs were £1885 (CI £1542-£2228) and their three highest cost categories were informal care (26%), primary care (23%) and formal care (20%). Total excess costs associated with muscle weakness were £2707 per person per year, with informal care costs accounting for 46% of this difference. This results in an estimated annual excess cost in the UK of £2.5 billion.

Original publication




Journal article


Calcif tissue int

Publication Date





137 - 144


Ageing, Health care costs, Muscle weakness, Sarcopenia