Trying to Calculate How Long a Person Might Live: A Check List for Seniors' 10-Year Survivability
Calculating medical risk can be an inexact science, especially for older adults, with many factors from the environment to chronic diseases helping determine how long a person lives. Now, a UC San Francisco team has developed a tool that can help determine – and perhaps influence – senior citizens’ 10-year survivability rates.
Click to download a PDF of the clinical checklist developed by UCSF researchers to help doctors assess health risks that influence the longevity of older adults. This tool is designed for physicians to assess their geriatric patients in a medical setting. It is not meant for patients to conduct self-assessments. This is not meant as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician if you have questions about your health.
The simple checklist helps doctors assess health risks that influence the longevity of older adults, and according to the authors, could be an opportunity for seniors to really engage with their primary care provider in having informed discussions about their health care maintenance.
The UCSF team created a 12-item “mortality index” 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 US adults. The point system was based on their risk factors and survival rate at the end of 10 years.
Calculating medical risk can be an inexact science, especially for older adults. Many factors from environmental to chronic diseases can help determine how long a person lives.
“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,” said first author Marisa Cruz, MD, a clinical fellow with the UCSF School of Medicine. “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.
“Not one particular risk factor tells you whether or not you are likely to survive but a host of attributes about your life and your medical conditions will give you a clearer picture,” she said.
Points for Risk Factors
The clinical tool operates on a point system, and the total determines a patient’s 10-year risk of mortality. For example, age, gender and medical conditions were given specific points. Adults between the ages of 60 and 64 received one point, for example, compared to those over the age of 85 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.
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