Researchers in Finland have developed a method that may help predict the likelihood of death among "healthy" people due to any medical condition within five years - all with a simple blood test.
They have found that people whose biomakers were out of kilter were five times more likely to die within five years of the blood test.
"What is especially interesting is that these biomakers 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," Dr. Johannes Kettunen of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland said in a statement.
Kettunen stressed that they believe in the future the measures may also be used to help identify people who appear to be healthy but are in fact faced with serious underlying illnesses, and guide them toward proper treatment.
Biomakers are a type of biological molecule found in blood, body fluids or tissues that may signal an abnormal process, a condition or even a disease. The level of a particular biomaker may indicate a patient's risk of certain types of diseases and how likely they are to respond to treatment.
The results of the study published in PLOS Medicine looked at the blood samples of approximately 17,000 generally healthy people who were screened for more than 100 different biomarkers and followed for five years. The researchers confirmed that one in five participants with the highest biomarker score died within the first year of the study.