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Continuing to live, esp. under conditions in which death would be the expected outcome.
Health care professionals are sometimes asked by patients or their families how long a patient may be expected to live, because he or she has a serious illness or has already reached an advanced age. Even in intensive care units, predicting how long some one may live is difficult. Some illnesses (such as widely metastatic breast or lung cancers) leave a patient with weeks or months of life. Some traumas (such as gunshot wounds to the brain, heart, or great vessels) confer a survival of hours or less. A patient who is not responding to resuscitative efforts can be expected to live for minutes. For patients who are not at the extremes of illness or injury, several predictive tools can be used to provide crude estimates of survival. The Karnofsky Performance Scale, the Palliative Prognostic Indicator, and the Palliative Performance Scale, can be used to gauge survival in grave illnesses. For average members of the population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (National Center for Health Statistics) publishes tables that estimate the life expectancy of Americans based on their current age.