Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Your Chances of Dying by 2023? Test Offers a Clue

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Your Chances of Dying by 2023? Test Offers a Clue

Article excerpt

CHICAGO Want to know your chances of dying in the next 10 years? Here are some bad signs: getting winded walking several blocks, smoking and having trouble pushing a chair across the room.

Thats according to a mortality index developed by San Francisco researchers for people older than 50.

The test scores may satisfy peoples morbid curiosity, but the researchers say their 12-item index is mostly for use by doctors. It can help them decide whether costly health screenings or medical procedures are worth the risk for patients unlikely to live 10 more years.

Its best to take the test with a doctor, who can discuss what the score means in the context of patients own medical history, the study authors say.

The index wasnt meant as guidance about how to alter your lifestyle, said the lead author, Dr. Marisa Cruz of the University of California, San Francisco.

Instead, doctors can use the results to help patients understand the pros and cons of such things as rigorous diabetes treatment, colon cancer screening and tests for cervical cancer. Those may not be safe or appropriate for very sick, old people likely to die before cancer ever develops.

The 12 items on the index are assigned points; fewer total points means better odds.

Men automatically get 2 points. In addition to that, men and women ages 60 to 64 get 1 point; ages 70 to 74 get 3 points; and 85 or over get 7 points.

Two points each: a current or previous cancer diagnosis, excluding minor skin cancers; lung disease limiting activity or requiring oxygen; heart failure; smoking; difficulty bathing; difficulty managing money because of health or memory problem; difficulty walking several blocks.

One point each: diabetes or high blood sugar; difficulty pushing large objects, such as a heavy chair; being thin or normal weight.

The highest, or worst, score is a 26, with a 95 percent chance of dying within 10 years. …

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