(reports) a UK media frenzy by featuring a front page report claiming that scientists are creating a device that can “tell people how long they have left to live”.
The Daily Mail has suggested that the “wristwatch-style device” could even influence how insurance and pension companies calculate premiums and pay outs.
The “death watch” is said to work by using “laser beams to analyse crucial cells lining blood vessels under the skin”.
The technique has been developed by physicists from Lancaster University, who are now reportedly developing a device that could be worn on the wrist. The press reports that they hope to obtain funding to get the device “on the market within three years”.
The device is designed to assess one aspect of the ageing process by looking at the lining of our blood vessels. Stiffness of the arteries is linked to coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. The current device assesses stiffness in smaller vessels in the limbs, and it is plausible that it could be an indicator of ageing or vascular health.
However, it is not clear whether it is a better measure of cardiovascular health than other available measures. Also, vascular health is not the only measure of physical health, nor is it the only predictor of longevity.
It seems unlikely that this device in its current form would be able to indicate accurately when a person may die, as there is a vast variety of possible causes of death, many of which are unrelated to cardiovascular health.
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