Trudy, one of our newest COPD Forum members asks a similar question:
I was diagnosed with COPD last year. I was wondering about life expectancy - how long does a person live with COPD? I am 55 now, with a birthday coming up.
To be in the severe range, pulmonary function tests should fall within the following parameters:
30% < or = to FEV1 < 50% predicted
So, what does this mean for Trudy as far as life expectancy?
First of all, no one, not even a doctor, can tell you how long you have to live. We are all on borrowed time, if you think about it, and everyday above ground is just one more day to be grateful for. That said, there are some key factors that come into play when it comes to survival rates in patients who have COPD:
- Age when you are diagnosed - If you are diagnosed at 80, as opposed to 55, your life expectancy will most likely be shorter (if other issues are not involved, such as smoking, secondhand smoke, other illnesses, for example). Lung function decline occurs, not only from COPD, but as part of the aging process. Learn more about aging.
- Stage upon diagnosis - Those who are diagnosed at Stage I, or mild COPD, in general, have a better chance for survival than someone who is diagnosed with Stage IV, or very severe COPD. But, keep in mind, these stages are only guidelines. There are always exceptions to every rule and some people have been diagnosed with severe COPD, and because they take care of themselves, may live longer than someone who has mild COPD and does not take care of themselves, IE: still smokes, drinks too much, etc. Learn more about the stages of COPD.
- Smoking - If you continue to smoke in the presence of your diagnosis, don't expect anything to get better. Smoking leads to a worsening of COPD, and will most likely take you to one place - an earlier grave. Learn 10 tips to help you quit smoking.
- Environment you live in - If you live in a home where others smoke, secondhand smoke can escalate your COPD. Other factors include air pollution and workplace exposure. You want to take precautions now that you have been diagnosed with COPD and try to limit your exposure to airway irritants. Learn more about the health hazards of secondhand smoke.
- Complications of COPD - Do you have pulmonary hypertension, cor-pulmonale, pneumonia, respiratory failure or other complications of COPD? Complications, in and of themselves, can be life-threatening. Learn more about COPD complications.
- How well you take care of yourself - Do you exercise regularly? Eat right? Avoid stress? Taking proper care of yourself is you best defense against your disease. Learn more about COPD nutrition and exercise.
- How well you comply with your treatment program - While there are no medications that can halt the progression of the disease, COPD treatment can improve quality of life and reduce the chances of COPD exacerbation. Reducing occurrences of COPD exacerbation can keep you out of the hospital. Learn more about COPD treatment.
- Are you on oxygen? Some studies have shown an increase in survival rates in patients who use oxygen more than 15 hours a day. Read more about oxygen therapy.
So, Trudy, I hope this information was helpful and that you are with us for a long, long time!
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For more information about COPD mortality, read: