Online tool predicts impact of 1,800 diseases on life expectancy


  • The most common diseases were disorders of the circulatory system, the neurological system and mental disorders.
  • Researchers focused on 39 specific disorders.

How does an illness affect our life expectancy? Danish researchers have attempted to answer this question. They created an atlas to estimate risk of death by disease. In the journal PLOS medicinepresent their results.

A global estimate

As an article from New scientist, it is difficult to calculate life expectancy in the event of illness. Often the estimates are simplified, but become imprecise and hardly take into account the age of the onset of the pathology. Several studies have looked at the risk of death associated with one or more disorders, but none have covered a wide range of pathologies. The new atlas would be the “most detailed compendium of mortality estimates”suggest the authors.

Over 1800 diseases and disorders identified

In this research, the Danish scientists wanted to have an overview of the life expectancy after pathologies. The atlas is based on anonymized data from 7,378,598 people living in Denmark. They were collected between 2000 and 2018. Researchers identified 1,803 disorders and diseases and then determined epidemiological and mortality parameters, including incidence rates, average age at onset, and comparison of mortality estimates for people with the disorder to the general population, such as years of life lost for each. At the end of their research, they created a statistical tool to visualize the different data.

A future scientific tool

For the authors of this atlas, it is intended to be used by health professionals, researchers, but also by policy makers. “Mortality metrics can aid in decision making and prioritization of healthcare resources“, they believe in a press release. “Most previous articles have used relative measures of mortality or rough estimates of life expectancy. Here we use a new method that more accurately captures premature mortality for over 1,800 different health conditions” underlines the lead author of the study, Oleguer Plana-Ripoll. Since the publication of the article, the atlas has been online and accessible to all.

Leave a Comment