An Overview of COPD Life Expectancy
Read on to learn more about COPD life expectancy, how doctors may evaluate your condition, and what you can do to slow disease progression.
The actual life expectancy for people with COPD is unknown, but the condition can shorten their lifespans. A
People with COPD who smoked significantly reduced life expectancy — nearly 6 years for those in the later stages of the disease plus 3.5 years lost from smoking. Those who had never smoked had a minor decrease in life expectancy, a little over 1 year.
This means the effect of COPD on life expectancy is most extreme in people who smoke.
Other underlying conditions can play a role in a reduced outlook. For example, a
Taking care of your health through proactive steps such as quitting smoking if you smoke and following your doctor’s treatment plan can potentially lessen the effects of COPD on your life expectancy.
There is no way to predict how COPD will affect your life expectancy. However, doctors can monitor COPD progression and assess how the condition may affect your life.
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) classification system measures your lung function to help determine how COPD is impacting your life.
Spirometry is a lung function test that measures how much air you can forcefully exhale in 1 second. Your spirometry test results allow your doctors to assess how much your airflow has become obstructed by the disease.
The GOLD grades based on spirometry test results are laid out below.
|GOLD grade||Airflow obstruction||Spirometry test results|
|1||mild||equal to or greater than 80% of healthy lung function|
|2||moderate||50–79% of healthy lung function|
|3||severe||30–49% of healthy lung function|
|4||very severe||less than 30% of healthy lung function|
In addition, the GOLD system evaluates your symptoms and risk of exacerbations. Based on these characteristics, you can fall into 1 of 4 groups from A–D.
|Group||Symptoms||Risk of exacerbations|
|A||fewer symptoms||low risk|
|B||more symptoms||low risk|
|C||fewer symptoms||high risk|
|D||more symptoms||high risk|
Your spirometry grade and group letter can help doctors evaluate your condition.
The BODE index is another system to determine how COPD may affect your life expectancy. BODE stands for these four measurements:
- Body mass index (BMI): This considers your weight and height to determine whether you have obesity, overweight, or underweight.
- Obstruction of airways: This is measured using the same 1-second blowing test used in the GOLD system, along with other pulmonary function tests.
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing): This relies on your rating of how much shortness of breath affects your day-to-day life.
- Exercise capacity: This is commonly measured by the 6-minute walk test. Your doctor tracks the distance you can walk on an indoor, flat surface for 6 minutes.
These results provide an
Blood tests can also show how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in your blood, which indicates how well your lungs are working and whether you might benefit from oxygen therapy.
Additional research is needed to determine how blood work may fit into COPD diagnosis and management in the future.
Though COPD is a progressive condition, there are ways to slow the progression and improve your quality of life.
If you smoke, quitting is one of the most critical steps. Also, avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke and other lung irritants can be beneficial in relieving symptoms.
Doctors may use additional treatment methods like medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, and oxygen therapy to slow COPD progression and prevent flare-ups.
The impact of COPD on life expectancy depends on several factors and may be difficult to predict. Talk with your doctor about ways to evaluate and manage your condition.