Getting older might be inevitable, but would you spend your time differently if you knew how many years you had left?
Scientists have created a new model to predict the life expectancy of older people.
Unlike most life-expectancy tests, the new method relies more heavily on looking at someone physical and mental cababilities – instead of disease and illnesses they currently have or are likely to develop.
The findings, from a study led by Duke Health researchers, can predict whether a person over the age of 70 is likely to live two, five or ten more years.
The new methodology, published in the Lancet, can predict someone's life expectancy off their ability to perform normal tasks and the results from a standard blood test.
In the study, the following lifestyle factors were found to be indicative of how many years someone has left:
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- If, and for long, someone has smoked for
- Whether you can get yourself dressed
- Ability to do own food shop
- How regularly you exercise
- Cognitive ability
- Current age
- Whether you smoke now
- Ability to do heavy work
As part of the study, researchers followed and investigated the health of over 1000 70 year-olds for ten years.
Experts took bloods and asked the participants questions about their health histories and habits.
The researchers found that over 70's ability do "heavy work" was the best indicator for how long they would live for.
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This included those who could do their own food shop and perform housecleaning chores.
These people were were more likely to survive for ten years or more than those who couldn't perform the same everyday tasks.
Unsurprisingly, the study also found that "any regular exercise” was a good indictor of living longer.
According to the research, everyone who lived for at least ten years (from the age of 70) took part in some sort of physical activity regularly.
Similarly, those who did not smoke and had never touched a cigarette had a much higher chance of surviving ten more years than those who did smoke.
Shockingly, having cancer or heart disease was not among the main predictors of how soon someone was likely to die.
Top 10 tips for living longer, according to the NHS
As people live longer, it’s important to try and stay as healthy as possible so you can enjoy your late life:
- Watch what you eat and drink
- Look after your teeth
- Stay active
- Make the most of your GP
- Take vitamin D
- Take care of your feet
- Sort out your sleep
- Take eye and hearing tests regularly
- Spend time with other people
- Give up smoking
Professor Virginia Byers Krauss, a medical expert at the Duke University School of Medicine and lead author of the study said: "These measures clarify and enrich our understanding of mechanisms underlying longevity.
"They could point to appropriate tests and potential interventions,” Prof Virginia said.
Researchers also said that people's blood was also an indicator of how long they would live for beyond the age of 70.
The following blood markers were used to determine someone's life-expectancy:
- Low creatinine level – natural waste-product
- A good GlyCA level -a measure of chronic inflammatory conditions
- Good levels of gamma glutamyl – high levels may be a sign of liver disease
- A low white blood cell count – high levels are suggestive of infections, cancer or autoimmune disorders
- A good level of protein – too much protein in suggestive of certain types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma
- High levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – “good” cholesterol which absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver
- Good levels of citrate – helps keep blood and kidneys healthy
- High levels of albumin- helps keep the blood moving
The researchers found that over 70's levels of high-density lipoprotein was the best indicator for how long they would live for.
HDLs carry cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver where it can be broken down.
This is then used by the body or passed out as waste.
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HDLs are known as “good cholesterol” and higher levels are considered better.
Previous research has found that the eating a Mediterranean diet is one of the best things you can do to help you live longer.
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