CHICAGO — Want to know your chances of dying in the next 10 years? Here are some bad signs: getting winded walking several blocks, smoking and having trouble pushing a chair across the room.

That’s according to a “mortality index” developed by San Francisco researchers for people older than 50.

The test scores may satisfy people’s morbid curiosity, but the researchers say their 12-item index is mostly for use by doctors. It can help them decide whether costly health screenings or medical procedures are worth the risk for patients unlikely to live 10 more years.

It’s best to take the test with a doctor, who can discuss what the score means in the context of patients’ own medical history, the study authors say.

The index “wasn’t meant as guidance about how to alter your lifestyle,” said lead author Dr. Marisa Cruz of the University of California, San Francisco.

Instead, doctors can use the results to help patients understand the pros and cons of such things as rigorous diabetes treatment, colon cancer screening and tests for cervical cancer. Those may not be safe for very sick, old people likely to die before cancer ever develops.

The findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Grants from the National Institute on Aging and the American Federation for Aging Research helped pay for the study.

The researchers created the index by analyzing data on almost 20,000 Americans over 50 who took part in a national health survey in 1998. They tracked the participants for 10 years. Nearly 6,000 participants died during that time.

Dr. Stephan Fihn, a health quality measurement specialist with Veterans Affairs health services in Seattle, said the index seems valid and “methodologically sound.”

But he said it probably would be most accurate for the oldest patients, who don’t need a scientific crystal ball to figure out their days are numbered.