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What Is the Average COPD Life Expectancy?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of death worldwide, but the actual prognosis for each individual patient is almost impossible to pinpoint since there are so many individual factors. The average COPD life expectancy may depend heavily on whether or not the issues which caused the condition in the first place have been remedied. Many cases of this disease in the Western world are due to cigarette smoking, and those who continue using smoking tobacco after being diagnosed are much more likely to die from the disease.

There are four stages of COPD. Mild stages may not shorten life expectancy at all or only minimally if proper actions and treatment are taken right away. The more severe the condition, the less likely a patient can expect to live a full life. Various treatments are available to lengthen the COPD life expectancy, but how well they work will depend on how far progressed the condition has become.

Patients with the mildest form of the illness may only require dietary and fitness changes along with an inhaler in some cases. More severe cases may warrant the use of fast-acting inhalers, oxygen, rehab, and in some cases, a lung transplant as a last resort. Those who are still smoking and are not taking actions to live a healthier lifestyle are typically not eligible for a lung transplant.

Whether or not a patient has access to medical care will also impact the life expectancy of someone with COPD. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. In remote or developing areas, access to good medical care and treatments may be limited, and the COPD life expectancy is much lower.

A patient's existing health conditions at the time of diagnosis will also play a role in COPD life expectancy. Those with heart conditions, additional lung problems, cancer, or other illnesses have a much higher mortality rate than those who without these condition. Even those who recover from other illnesses may become weaker in the process and immunities may become lowered. This can lead to a much harder time in treating COPD.

To increase the chances of living a full life, those with COPD should seek medical counsel as soon as possible. They should also stop using tobacco and avoid smoky areas and other heavily polluted areas. Additionally, all recommended treatments should be used exactly as instructed for maximum benefit.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Greatedia — On Jan 16, 2014

With all the evidence of the ill effects smoking causes, I honestly can’t understand why anyone would take it up.

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