Thursday, February 16, 2006

How Long Do You Have To Live?

It's slightly hard coming by good medical news here but this little nugget just happened to fall into my lap since the press here is having a field day with this one. It seems to me that anytime one can simplify the human condition into twelve easy to answer questions we, as the human race, are always for it.

And so, a new study from the VA in San Francisco (I am trying to translate from Hebrew so forgive me for any disparities), which included more than 11,000 individuals above the age of 50, attempts to predict survival over the next four years based on risk factors. According to the investigators the test is correct 81% of the time. It is designed for people over the age of fifty.

Follow the list, one at a time, and add the appropriate amount of points for each medical/human condition listed:

1. Age:
Below 50: No Points
60-64: 1 point
65-69: 2 points
70-74: 3 points
75-79: 4 points
80-84: 5 points
85 and above: 7 points

2. Sex:
Female: No point
Male: two points

3. BMI (weight in kg/height in meters squared):
below 25: no points
above 25: 1 point

4. If you have cancer: 2 points

5. Diabetes: 2 points

6. Chronic Lung Disease (asthma, COPD): 2 points

7. Congestive Heart Failure: 2 points

8. Smoker: 2 points

9. Unable to Shower alone resulting from difficulties in health or memory: 2 points

10. Unable to manage a checkbook or pay bills appropriately due to health or memory problems: 2 points

11. Unable to walk short distances due to medical condition: 2 points

12. Unable to carry heavy objects due to medical condition: 1 point

Result: add all points that you accumulate

0 to 5 points: less than 4% chance of death within the next 4 years
6-9 points: 15% risk of death within the next 4 years
10-13 points: 42% chance of death within the next 4 years
14 points or more: 64% chance of death within the next 4 years

Some Thoughts: Of the entire list only two risk factors (smoking and BMI) are amenable to lifestyle changes. The list includes a multitude of chronic diseases but does not address a change in prognosis on the basis of adherence to treatment. Of course, this is probably discussed in the original paper and not in the public media (my current only source of news), which tells a lot about how medical news is distributed.

Smoking carries the same weight as Congestive Heart Failure, chronic lung disease and dementia and is worse than currently having cancer. Do we need to continue driving home this particular point?

Middle East Angle: The study fails to address a change in prognosis based on current residence in the Middle East (in particular Israel). According to the news, Hamas is scheduled to take over the PA this week and Iran continues to enrich Uranium. My estimation states that this particular risk factor is worth something along the lines of 50 points, leading to a four year prognosis of "God can only save you now". The Rabbis around here tell me he's been doing it for quite a while now.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So my wife and I took this test together. I scored 3 because I'm male and my BMI is less than 25. My wife scored 2. What a relief! I'm so glad that my wife's stage 2 rectal cancer with subsequent metastases to her liver is better than being a skinny male. This is science?

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BMI less than 25 gets 1 point. Greater than 25, 0 points.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

silly system....being male (+2)equates to a 10-year age difference (each 5yrs is +1).

12:51 PM  
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Anonymous Dr. Health said...

Smoking carries the same weight as Congestive Heart Failure, chronic lung disease and dementia and is worse than currently having cancer.

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It is designed for people over the age of fifty.

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Anonymous Niconot anti smoking pills said...

Oh sound great . My case it says less than 4% chance of death within the next 4 years.

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Attempts to predict survival over the next four years based on risk factors.

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It seems to me that anytime one can simplify the human condition into twelve easy to answer questions we, as the human race, are always for it.

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Anonymous Peter said...

really interesting scorecard. men get 2 points straight away, just like smokers or people with cancer. but these things like longevity are also a genetic factor that can hardly be accounted for. cheers evitalitaet!

11:22 AM  

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