February 15, 2006
It seems these days researchers have come up with studies and tests for everything, and now there's another one to add to the list. There is a new test that claims it can predict when a person will die.
The test assigns points based on 12 risk factors. According to the test, people aged 50 or older who score from 0 to 5 points are believed to have a less than 4% risk of dying within the next 4 years. However, just 10 additional points on the test can make that minimal risk of 4% jump to 65%.
The 12-question test doesn't ask what you eat or how much you exercise, but it does ask if you can push a living room chair across the floor.
Just being male gives you two points and having diabetes or being a smoker can also affect your score.
"This isn't a kind of quiz where if you go home and take it and score badly worry that you're gonna be a gonner or anything like that," said Geriatrician Dr. Jonathan Evans.
"I didn't put a lot of faith in it," said Wilma Mangione.
Mangione saw the test online this morning and said even though she liked the idea behind it, she was skeptical.
"I was interested, but I thought that were factors left out--I mean known risk factors," she said.
Supporters of the test believe it can help people become more aware of their health risks and help them plan for the future, or even improve their chances of survival.
Others feel the test isn't revealing anything most people don't already know.
"People generally live a long time, but the longer you live the more likely you are to die in the near future, compared to somebody that's younger," said Dr. Evans. "Healthy people generally live longer than people who are unhealthy. And that's kind of defined by the diseases you have, as well as your ability to do things for yourself.
Dr. Evans believes if you're worried about your health, besides talking with your physician, there are other things you can do to determine your chances--things like looking in the mirror or hopping on a scale.
"Aside from that, you can probably tell from your medicine chest what your health is like," he said.
For a full report on the test, you can visit the Journal of the American Medical Association at jama.ama-assn.org