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.
That's according to a "mortality index" developed by San Francisco researchers for people older than 50.
The test scores may satisfy people's 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.
It's best to take the test with a doctor, who can discuss what the score means in the context of patients' own medical history.
The index "wasn't meant as guidance about how to alter your lifestyle," said 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. To get that, you'd have to be a man at least 85 years old with all the above conditions.
For a score of zero, which means a 3 percent chance of dying within 10 years, you'd have to be a woman younger than 60 without any of those infirmities — but at least slightly overweight.
It's hardly surprising that a sick, older person would have a much higher chance of dying than someone younger and more vigorous, and it's well known that women generally live longer than men. But why would being overweight be less risky than being of normal weight or slim?
One possible reason is that thinness in older age could be a sign of illness, Cruz said.
- Feds call for judge to disband police in...
- Malia Obama to enter Harvard in 2017 after...
- US once again forced to turn to Russia for...
- Did woman sway boy to kill his dad? Court...
- Confident Trump seeks knockout of Cruz in...
- Monkey bars alert: Playground concussions are...
- South Africa: Rescued lions explore new home...
- Mystery solved? Australian says he's Bitcoin...
- Ted Cruz ends his bid for Republican... 82
- With Trump on top, Romney will not... 73
- Utah GOP all in for Cruz, but Trump... 59
- US government: North Carolina LGBT law... 44
- Kasich dropping out; Trump on clear GOP... 37
- White House: Obama not offended by... 28
- Robert F. Bennett, former three-term... 28
- Trump, Clinton all but certain to face... 22