QUB research will help make more accurate predictions about the impact of stress
A NEW study will help make more accurate predictions about how stress impacts on people's health as they age.
A team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast have pioneered ways to objectively assess stress and help forecast the physical 'wear and tear' often associated with the natural ageing process.
Around one quarter of adults are diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions, often referred to as multimorbidity, which is more prevalent in lower socioeconomic groups and projected to increase over the next decade or more.
Using a set of biomarkers – measures taken in routine blood tests - the QUB research could be used to predict future health related quality of life for up to five years.
Dr Luke Barry from Queen's Centre for Public Health said using biomarkers helped provide a fuller picture of someone's likely health trajectory, enabling early interventions that could "really make a difference".
“The research shows how the biomarkers can predict physical health over and above how people self-assessed, providing much more accurate and objective data to predict an individual's health journey," he said.
"Screening people this way could transform the health trajectory of people through implementing intervention and education, extending healthy years and life."
Policy makers and clinicians have acknowledged the need for more preventative approaches to deal with the rise of multimorbidity and “early ageing.”
The research suggests that information based on simple blood tests could be a catalyst for a change in lifestyle or other interventions that delay premature ageing and lower mortality risk.
"We need to be able to identify those at risk, through a type of screening process so that earlier intervention measures can be implemented," Dr Barry said.
"This would ultimately delay the occurrence of chronic illnesses often linked to chronic stress. If we know that someone is more prone to chronic stress and its physical impacts, we can then find ways to manage it."