Weight loss (cachexia)
Cachexia, also known as wasting syndrome, is extreme weight loss and muscle deterioration. This severe weight loss is a complication of other serious illnesses and can be fatal.
Palliative care experts at Northwell Health work closely with patients to prevent, monitor and control this serious condition.
Experts have found that muscle wasting can begin before any weight loss is noticeable. Some key symptoms of cachexia include:
- Loss of appetite, especially a loss of desire to eat
- Involuntary weight loss even when eating an adequate amount of calories
- Skeletal muscle wasting, which can occur slowly and be difficult to detect
Most often, the cause of cachexia is a serious, chronic illness. Palliative care physicians treat many patients with conditions that can lead to muscle wasting:
- Advanced dementia that causes difficulty swallowing
- Cardiac patients, especially those with heart failure
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Advanced HIV/AIDS
- Age-related failure to thrive