They call it a "death test." Researchers in Europe have found that the presence of certain biomarkers in a person's body can be a prediction of premature death. The study conducted on over 17,000 patients in Estonia and Finland over several years found that those with a presence of four key biomarkers--molecules that show an abnormality--were five times more likely to die within five years. The scientists say the markers didn't necessarily predict any specific disease or condition, but rather a general level of "frailty" that could lead to fatal diseases or conditions.
Dr. Christine Le with Houston'sKelsey-Seybold clinic has reviewed the findings and does not find them earth-shattering. "The most important (biomarker) I saw was cholesterol," she tells KTRH. "And in the U.S. that's the main marker that we would check, in terms of visiting with your physician." In fact, there are already tests that can do a lot of what the European doctors are touting. "In the U.S. we usually use something called the Framingham score, which people can put in their age, blood pressure and cholesterol, and it will actually give them a risk score--their risk of having heart disease in the next ten years," says Dr. Le.
Some European scientists think the "death test" could become a widespread tool for doctors within a few years, but Dr. Le says the best test is to maintain your own health and nutrition via annual physicals and regular checkups with your doctor. "The main point is it's really important to eat healthy and be active, and be educated. Know what the numbers are, know what your risk might be, and talk to your physician about lifestyle changes to minimize the risk."