'Mortality index' predicts death in 10/yrs

March 6, 2013 at 10:23 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, March 6 (UPI) -- A simple checklist, or "mortality index," helps doctors assess health risks that influence the longevity of older adults, U.S. researchers say.

First author Dr. Marisa Cruz of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine said the mortality index could be an opportunity for seniors to engage with their primary care provider in having informed discussions about their healthcare maintenance.

Cruz and colleagues created a 12-item mortality index based on data of more than 20,000 adults age of 50 and older from 1998 until 2008, from a nationally-representative sample of independently living U.S. adults.

The point system was based on their risk factors and survival rate at the end of 10 years.

"The most important thing we found was the risk factors that go into estimating shorter intermediate survival are very similar to risk factors that go into estimating the likelihood of longer-term survival," Cruz said in a statement.

"We also found that building a tool that clinicians can use to estimate that likelihood of longer-term survival requires considering many different types of risk factors."

Each question of the index is given points, for example, adults between the ages of 60-64 received one point compared to those age of 85 and older, who received seven points. Health risks such as current tobacco use, non-skin cancers, chronic lung disease and heart failure each were assigned two points.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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