After analyzing 65 different variables gathered from nearly 30 years of data, researchers determined that self-assessment of own health and mental processing speed to be stronger predictors of mortality risk; these two variables were stronger predictors than participation in unhealthy behavior and chronic medical conditions.
How’d They Do That?
Assessing data gathered from over 6,000 patients, researchers analyzed cognitive performance of intelligence, verbal and visual memory, and processing speed gathered over a 12 year period.
In addition, researchers also measured participants reported self-assessment of their perceived health, number of prescription medications, sleep habits, hobbies, and social activities.
Ultimately, after analyzing the 65 different variables gathered, researchers found that subjective health and mental processing speed were two of the top predictors of mortality risk. Specifically, better perceived health and slower decreases in mental processing over time were found to be linked to lower risks of early death.
Other findings of the study demonstrated that female participants to be a lower risk of early death than male participants and a clear connection between the years of smoking and an increased risk of early death.
What Does This Mean For Me?
The findings of this study demonstrate that your assessment of your current levels of health are much more accurate than initially thought, especially when predicting risk of early death. Decreases in mental processing speed was also a significant predictor of mortality risk; we know from previous studies that maintaining healthy fitness levels during middle age slows cognitive decline and loss of brain volume later in life. The research findings here confirm that we are in control of our health, both current and future, and our assessment of personal health levels is a very accurate account of our risk of mortality.