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Blood test for assessing risk of death

Monday, March 10, 2014
Science and Society

Blood tests are routinely taken to screen for a variety of conditions and illnesses. The results are used to advise on life style changes and or medical treatment regimes. But now there is news of a new blood that can be used to assess the risk of death. Quite recently, Finnish and Estonian researchers reported in the journal PLOS medicine that it was possible to predict the risk of death to healthy people. The Telegraph and the LA Times also reported on it. 


This so-called “Death Test” is a blood test from which the levels of four biomarkers are determined. The four are alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, albumin, particle size of very low density lipoprotein and citrate. When these are not within a defined range, then the person is five times more likely to die within five years of the blood test. 


What makes this result even more remarkable and useful is that it reflects the risk of dying from very different types of diseases like heart attacks and cancer. Further, when all the biomarkers are considered together, it indicates a general level of frailty. This is quite interesting in that frailty is normally associated with the aged. In fact, it is a common geriatric syndrome that embodies catastrophic declines in health and functionality among older adults.


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