A new blood testing technique developed by researchers in Finland and Estonia could theoretically identify people who have a high risk of dying within as few as five years.
Using a new cost-effective method to screen mass amounts of blood called NMR Spectroscopy, researchers combed through more than 17,000 samples in search of specific biomarkers that were present in people who had died shortly after their blood was drawn. The results of the study were published in PLOS Medicine.
Mashable has more details on the study:
Four biomarkers — albumin, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, citrate and the size of low-density lipoprotein particles — indicated an overall weakness of the body. These molecules can present in any person's blood, but the sheer volume made researchers take note.
"What is especially interesting is that these biomarkers reflect the risk of dying from very different types of diseases such as heart disease or cancer," the University of Helsinki's Johannes Kettunen, a lead author of the study, said in a statement. "Next, we aim to study whether some kind of connecting factor between these biomarkers can be identified."
Researchers also examined other factors that could have led to early deaths, such as age, weight, tobacco and alcohol use, cholesterol levels and pre-existing illnesses. The original connection among the four biomarkers and risk of short-term death, however, held steady even when considering these circumstances.
The new research could also potentially help identify people who have underlying illnesses, but otherwise appear healthy. However, the findings are not quite ready for clinical use as more studies and research is needed.