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The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Grants from the National Institute on Aging and the American Federation for Aging Research helped pay for the study.

The researchers created the index by analyzing data on almost 20,000 Americans over 50 who took part in a national health survey in 1998. They tracked the participants for 10 years. Nearly 6,000 participants died during that time.

They previously used the test to predict the risk of dying within four years. They said their new effort shows the same index can be used to predict 10-year mortality.

Dr. Stephan Fihn, a University of Washington professor of medicine and health quality measurement specialist with Veterans Affairs health services in Seattle, said the index seems valid and “methodologically sound.”

But he said it probably would be most accurate for the oldest patients, who don’t need a scientific crystal ball to figure out their days are numbered.

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Online:

Mortality test: bit.ly/QeOX23 (p. 807)

JAMA: http://www.jama.am-assn.org

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AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner