Introduction Demographic changes and increasing life expectancy in developed countries mean that ever increasing numbers of people will live into their 70s. These individuals, their families and healthcare providers, and healthcare policy makers will be seeking valid, yet simple, information that helps them predict their long-term mortality and how their risk may be reduced. Increasing age and health-related behaviours, such as smoking and physical activity, are major modifiable determinants of long-term mortality. We aimed to develop a valid, user-friendly colour-coded chart of absolute risk of death for elderly men and women in Australia.
Methods Data were from people aged 71–79 participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (national sample, n=7438) and the Health in Men Study (Perth, Western Australia, n=6053). Logistic regression models were fitted for each sex separately with age, level of physical activity, body mass index and smoking as explanatory variables. The expected proportion of deaths within 10 years for each combination of explanatory variables was estimated.
Results The risks of death were high, all exceeding 10% for women and 20% for men. Risks were substantially higher for men than women. For both sexes risk was highest in the oldest age group among smokers who reported little or no physical activity.
Conclusions The risk charts we have developed provide a tool for clinicians to explain to their patients the risks (and benefits) of health related behaviours for older people in the context of the substantial effects of age and sex.
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