Life Expectancy for People Affected With COPD

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Story at-a-glance -

  • A group of lung experts called the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) created a scoring system to help doctors around the world to properly classify the current COPD stage and condition and provide an accurate assessment on your life expectancy and recovery
  • If you have been diagnosed with COPD, it’s best to discuss your situation with your doctor to better understand how COPD will affect your life in later years

In the United States, the mortality rate for COPD differs on the location. In Hawaii, for example, the rate is 15.3 per 100,000 people, while in the United States, Kentucky has 62.8 per 100,000 people. Furthermore, states with the highest death rates are usually grouped along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.1

Since there’s such a disparity of data, providing an exact number on the life expectancy of people diagnosed with COPD is next to impossible. You also need to factor in other elements  such as your overall health and whether you have other diseases such as diabetes.2

The GOLD System Can Help Provide an Overview of Your Respiratory Function

To help create a standard of diagnosing COPD for those who are affected, a group of lung experts called the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) created a scoring system to help doctors around the world. The group created four different grades by using FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) to determine your standing, which is a measure for how much air you can exhale:3,4

  • GOLD 1: FEV1 of 80 percent or more
  • GOLD 2: FEV1 of 50 to 79 percent
  • GOLD 3: FEV1 of 30 to 49 percent
  • GOLD 4: FEV1 of less than 30 percent

After getting your FEV1 rating, the next step involves taking your symptoms into account and sorting your score into four groups: A, B, C and D. To be added into groups A and B, you must have no exacerbations or one at the most, but were  not required a visit to the hospital in the past year. You will be placed in groups C or D if you had an exacerbation that required hospitalization, or at least two episodes that didn’t require a visit to the hospital.5

Using these scores, your doctor may be able to properly classify the current stage of your condition and provide an accurate assessment on your life expectancy and recovery. For example, people who have a score of Gold Grade 1, Group A will have a better outlook compared to those who fall under Gold Grade 4, Group D.6

Your  Life Expectancy with  COPD Depends on Your Habits

According to a study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a modest reduction in life expectancy is associated with people who don’t smoke. Conversely, those who do smoke (or have already quit) will have a large reduction. For example, a 65-year-old man will have 5.8 years taken away from his life if he currently has Grade 3 or 4 COPD.7

On the other hand, non-smokers will only have 0.7 or 1.3 years slashed away from their life when diagnosed with Grade 3 or 4 COPD, respectively. From these results, it can be ascertained that smoking plays a big role in reducing life expectancy.8 Looking at rates from a five-year span, the estimate for COPD can range anywhere between 40 to 70 percent depending on the severity of the disease. For those with severe COPD, the two-year mortality rate is at 50 percent.9

Based on this published data, it’s quite difficult to come up with a specific number in relation to life expectancy. If you have been diagnosed with COPD, looking at a chart won’t provide you insight. It’s best to discuss your situation with your doctor to learn and understand how COPD will affect your life, depending on the severity.

MORE ABOUT COPD

COPD: An Introduction

What Is COPD?

COPD Symptoms

COPD Causes

COPD Stages

Types of COPD

COPD Treatment

COPD Life Expectancy

COPD Prevention

COPD Diet

COPD FAQ

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