Sarcopenia and cachexia are significant medical problems with a high disease related burden in cardiovascular illness. Muscle wasting and weight loss are very frequent particularly in chronic heart failure and they relate to poor prognosis. Although clinically largely underestimated, the fields of cachexia and sarcopenia are of great relevance to cardiologists. In cachexia and sarcopenia a significant number of research publications related to basic science questions of muscle wasting and lipolysis were published between 2010 and 2012. Recently, the two processes of muscle wasting and lipolysis were found to be closely linked. Treatment research in pre-clinical models involves studies on a number of different therapeutic entities, including ghrelin, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), as well as drugs targeting myostatin or melanocortin-4. In the human setting, studies using enobosarm (a SARM) and anamorelin (ghrelin) are in phase III. The last 3 years has seen significant efforts to define the field using consensus statements. In the future, these definitions should also be considered for guidelines and treatment trials in cardiovascular medicine. The current review aims to summarize important information and development in the fields of muscle wasting, sarcopenia and cachexia focussing on findings in cardiovascular research, in order for cardiologists to have a better understanding of the progress in the still not well enough known field.