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March 12, 2013

New index aims to predict lifespan and cut medical costs

Want to know how long you’ll live? San Francisco researchers developed a new 12-item “mortality index,” which aims to predict how long people older than 50 will live, to help curb costly medical procedures and limit health screenings. The index is based on data of more than 20,000 adults over the age of 50 from 1998 until 2008, from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally-representative sample of independently living U.S. adults. Intended for use by doctors, the test estimates which older adults are not expected to live 10 years or more. This could help doctors treating patients less likely to live avoid prescribing harsh medical treatments and cancer screenings. Women less likely to live, for example, may not need cervical cancer screenings, because the cancer would take time to develop and not end up being the cause of death.Described as a “simple checklist,” each item on the index is assigned a point value, with 26 being the overall highest score, or most likely to die. That person would be a man, at least 85-years-old, a smoker, and have a BMI more than 25, among other things. You can check the index here in pdf format: The index

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