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 study authors say.
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.