Factors that reveal the risk of death

Do you want to know if you will live another 10 years? A simple checklist could help doctors estimate whether a patient over 50 will be alive within 10 years or what their quality of life will be like.

The researchers hope that the investigation of the University of California at San Francisco, published in the magazine Journal of the American Medical Association , help the elderly and their doctors to make better decisions about health care and their quality of life.

"It aims to be used in a clinical context, to help doctors and older patients discuss tests and other interventions," he said. Marisa Cruz, clinical member of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of California, San Francisco .

The checklist used in the new study seeks to help older people obtain the tests or treatments that could benefit them, and avoid those that are potentially harmful, as Cruz explains in the following video:

However, what does not, Cruz said, is to give a person in particular a "precise prediction" of what will happen in the next 10 years.


Factors that reveal the risk of death

The researchers created the list using data from a national study of almost 20,000 people in the United States, from 50 years of age. They found 12 factors that, together, can give an idea of ​​the risk of death of an older adult in a period of 10 years.

These include age, sex, weight, smoking, if a person suffers from diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or physical limitations such as difficulties walking or moving large objects.

Doctors can obtain that information using closed-ended questions (yes or no), and assigning points to each response, Cruz said.

For example, if someone is between 60 and 64 years old, they would be assigned a point. If you are between 65 and 69 years old, you would be assigned two points.

People with a total score of one point, on average, have a 5% chance of dying in the next 10 years.

A score of five translates into a 23% chance of dying within a decade, while a score of 10 corresponds to a 70% risk.

None of this is immutable, Cruz said, but the scoring system divides people into "approximate categories" of risk.

Having an idea of ​​the life expectancy of an elderly patient is important because some medical interventions "take a long time to give benefits," said Dr. James Pascala, president of the American Geriatrics Society (American Geriatric Society).

However, Pascala emphasized that decisions about whether to take a test or treat a disease should not be based on just one number. He said that estimates of longevity should be used to facilitate conversations between doctors and patients.

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