A new systematic assessment of malnutrition, created by researchers at Penn State, will aid dietitians and other health care providers in diagnosis and treatment.
Up to 50 percent of patients in hospitals and nursing facilities are estimated to be malnourished, according to Gordon Jensen, professor and head of nutritional sciences, Penn State. Although malnutrition is widespread, confusion exists in the clinical community on how to best make this diagnose. Malnourished patients are frequently not identified as such, and those not affected are sometimes thought to be malnourished.
"Our systematic assessment is a new approach created for health care professionals to enable them to appropriately diagnosis and treat malnutrition in patients," said Jensen.
Supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the new approach to diagnosis describes syndromes of malnutrition in the context of starvation, chronic disease and/or acute disease or injury.
"While it may be obvious that a person suffering from starvation -- as a result of an eating disorder or depression, for example -- is malnourished, it may be less obvious that a person suffering from a chronic disease, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, or from an acute disease or injury, such as major trauma from an auto accident or a serious blood-borne infection, is malnourished," said Jensen.
According to Jensen, patients with chronic or acute disease or injury may suffer from malnutrition as a result of their bodies' natural and sometimes exaggerated inflammatory responses to disease or injury, which can trigger a loss of appetite, abnormal metabolism and muscle breakdown.
"Inflammation is an important underlying factor that increases risk for malnutrition," he said. "Those patients with chronic disease tend to have inflammation that is chronic and of mild to moderate degree, while those with a
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