Predicting your longevity

 
By HSC Staff Writer • Published: May 2nd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Play
Play

Tired of the same old parlor games like Charades and Twenty Questions? Why not spice up your after-dinner conversation with a provocative new pastime that combines elements of luck, knowledge of contemporary culture, and… like a good Agatha Christie thriller… circumstances surrounding the demise of the central character, namely you. You could call this game, “How Long Will I Live?”

Actually, it’s not a game at all, but a fascinating new statistical index that lets people over fifty assess their chances of dying within the next four years, with about eighty percent accuracy. Indeed, one’s predicted life expectancy can be deduced from answers to a dozen simple questions that are as straightforward as “Do you have trouble pushing a chair across the room?”

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study could help doctors and families get a better handle on the future. Individuals are assigned points for each of twelve risk factors… the fewer the points, the lower the risk. You get two points just for being male.

Having diabetes or being a smoker each adds another two points. As you age, more points are added. When everything’s totaled, if you have five points or fewer, your risk of dying within four years is less than four percent. With fourteen points, it’s sixty-five percent.

Just remember… while in the game of life death is certain, the index isn’t necessarily so… it simply provides an educated guess about when it will happen, not a definite date.