LONDON (TIP): Researchers from Finland and Estonia have identified four biomarkers that can help identify people at high risk of dying from any disease within five years. This was done after screening blood samples from over 17,000 healthy people for over 100 different biomolecules. The health status of these study volunteers was followed for several years. The researchers looked for measures in the blood that could reflect who had died within the following 5 years after blood samples were taken.

“What is especially interesting is these biomarkers reflect the risk for dying from very different types of diseases such as heart disease or cancer. They seem to be signs of a general frailty in the body. Next we aim to study whether some kind of connecting factor between these biomarkers can be identified,” said researcher Johannes Kettunen. In a study published in PLOS Medicine, researchers describe identification of four such biomarkers of death. Of these, albumin was the only one previously linked with mortality.

All these molecules are normally present in everyone’s blood. The novel biomarkers helped detect individuals at much higher risk of dying during five-year follow-up. The measures were independent of well-known risk factors such as age, smoking, drinking, obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol. The result did not change even when only apparently healthy people were examined. “We believe that in the future these measures can be used to identify people who appear healthy but in fact have serious underlying illnesses and guide them to proper treatment. More studies are, however, needed before these findings can be implemented in clinical practice,” Kettunen said.

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