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Researchers Claim This Can Predict Sudden Death and Illness

The occurrence of a sudden death or an unexpected diagnosis can send patients, friends and family members spinning. But what if there was a way to predict an impending death or illness, before it took hold? While you may not be able to change the diagnosis, you would perhaps have more time to process and plan. It sounds slightly hard to believe, but researchers say they’ve found a way to do just that — predict the future. According to a new study, a blood test can predict the risk of imminent death and/or illness.

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Researchers at the University of Copenhagen studied 108,135 people between the ages of 20 and 100. During the study period, 10,372 of the participants died. After analyzing the health records of the patients who had passed away, the researchers noticed abnormal test results.

The researchers noted that the people who had died during the study period had lower levels of a certain white blood cell, called a lymphocyte. Those with lower lymphocyte counts also had a mortality risk 1.6 times greater than the other participants, suggesting that a low lymphocyte count — known as lymphopenia — may be linked to an early death.

"This might be due to reduced immune surveillance, which makes these patients less able to survive potentially deadly diseases. Lymphopenia could also be a more passive marker of general frailty that confers a high risk of death from any cause. Older age is associated both with decreasing lymphocyte count, which we found in this study and with mortality," the researchers explained.

The condition is most often diagnosed during a routine blood test, but until now, mortality implications have been unknown, so individuals with lymphopenia aren’t typically sent for further testing.