(HealthDay News) – For U.S. adults >50 years, a 12-item mortality index can accurately detect 10-year mortality risk, according to a research letter published in the March 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Marisa Cruz, MD from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used a 12-item mortality index, previously developed as a four-year mortality index, to examine 10-year mortality risk. Data were obtained from the 1998 wave of the Health and Retirement Study, a cohort of community-dwelling U.S. adults aged >50 years. A risk index was calculated for each participant based on variables including age, gender, body mass index, diseases, and difficulties in activities of daily living.

During 10-years of follow-up, the researchers found that 32% of the validation cohort died. Of the 11,701 participants in the development cohort, 10-year mortality varied from 2.5% for those with 0 points on the risk index to 96% for participants with >14 points. Ten-year mortality rates varied from 2.3–93%, respectively, in the validation cohort of 8,009 participants. The C-statistic in the development and validation cohorts was 0.838 and 0.834, respectively.

“We validated a mortality index that accurately stratified older adults into groups at varying risk for 10-year mortality,” the authors write. “Patients identified by this index as having a high risk of 10-year mortality may be more likely to be harmed by preventive interventions with long lag times to benefit, whereas patients identified as having a low risk of 10-year mortality may be good candidates for such interventions.”

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