Cachexia Definition

What is cachexia?

Cachexia is defined as a morbid, very severe emaciation. The medical services of health insurance (MDK) understands cachexia have a body mass index of less than 18. The issued by the Social Medical Experts Group Kodierempfehlung no. 16 defines the MDK cachexia with a BMI below 18.5 kg / m²

Cachexia causes

Possible causes are:

-Chronic diseases, eg. Cancer (cancer cachexia), AIDS, COPD, rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatoid cachexia), type I diabetes, African sleeping sickness (infection with Trypanosoma brucei)
-Food deprivation, malnutrition (malnutrition, malnutrition, kwashiorkor)
-Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia) occur mainly in young women, for their explanation mental, social as well as biological factors are increasingly used today.
-Persistent diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (enteritis, indigestion) or pancreas (especially chronic pancreatitis) may lead to a lack of nutrients due to lack of splitting in or lack of absorption from the intestine (malabsorption, maldigestion, malabsorption).
-Chronic heart failure (cardiac cachexia)
-Chronic lung disease with respiratory failure (pulmonary cachexia)
-Old age (senile cachexia)


In contrast to inanition (wasting), not only the memory fat deposits, but also the structural fat and the muscles are degraded in the cachexia. The bone marrow is transformed into gelatinous marrow, and other institutions, there is atrophy and loss of function. Life threatening the state, when the heart muscle is under attack. Cachexia soon thus leads to irreversible (irreversible) changes, and ultimately death ("terminal cachexia" = end-stage).


Treatment consists of a diet treatment and elimination of the underlying cause, as far as this is treatable.

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