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For millions of Americans diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the first question can simply be, “how much time do I have?” When given a diagnosis of COPD along with the knowledge that the disease cannot be cured, the concept of time becomes the most pivotal factor in one’s life, quickly followed by questions regarding how to extend it. Although alternative treatment options exist, when judging one’s COPD life expectancy, there are a variety of factors to consider, including one’s genetic history, lifestyle habits (exercise behavior and smoking status), environmental surroundings as well as nutrition. In combining these personal metrics, it’s possible to come up with an approximation of an expected rate of natural decline.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the information you need on COPD Life Expectancy: Knowing Your Options.
COPD Life Expectancy and How It’s Measured
Today there are over 24 million Americans that suffer from COPD and for many, knowing one’s COPD life expectancy is an all-encompassing issue. Although as we’ve mentioned before, COPD life expectancy is based on a variety of person-specific parameters such as an individual’s genetic history (whether alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is in your family), or whether your family has a history of smoking. Other factors can include whether you were or are currently a smoker, for how long you smoked and with what frequency. Additional metrics can include lifestyle and behavioral choices, such as diet and exercise. Many general practitioners and pulmonologists will utilize two other systems of staging categorization: The GOLD System and the BODE Index.
Breaking Down GOLD and BODE in COPD Life Expectancy
Beginning with the GOLD System, this method of COPD staging stands for the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease and uses the pulmonary function metric of the FEV1, which determines the amount of air a person can exhale in one second. After a measurement is determined, the severity of one’s COPD is staged thusly:
- Stage 1: Very mild COPD with an FEV1 about 80 percent or more of normal.
- Stage 2: Moderate COPD with an FEV1 between 50 and 80 percent of normal.
- Stage 3: Severe emphysema with FEV1 between 30 and 50 percent of normal.
- Stage 4: Very severe COPD with a lower FEV1 than Stage 3, or those with Stage 3 FEV1 and low blood oxygen levels
*Typically those with Stave IV emphysema are on supplemental oxygen*
The BODE Index, however, has become the preferred method in more accurate staging as it collects a more comprehensive amount of information on the body and the patient’s quality of life. The BODE Index incorporates the body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea (breathlessness) and exercise capacity through a six-minute walk test.
What Are My Options? Traditional vs. Alternative Treatment
Once receiving a stage of COPD and a subsequent COPD life expectancy prognosis, the next step is determining treatment. Though there are a variety of options available, it’s important to recognize the intended results of one’s treatment and as well as the possible side effects. When looking to treat COPD, one can expect these treatments to be available.
Traditional Treatment Options:
Corticosteroids & Inhalers- This form of treatment is more akin to an asthma inhaler in that it works to relieve COPD symptoms (chronic coughing) either over the course of the day (long-acting inhalers) or immediately (short-acting inhalers). Although these medications are generally effective, they aren’t without their negative effects such as a rapid heart rate, nausea and headaches.
Oxygen Therapy– Although this is an effective way to get oxygen and relieve the symptoms of breathlessness, it is also a method of treatment that only works to relieve symptoms but cannot affect the progression of the disease itself. Further still, oxygen therapy can be taxing and cumbersome, forcing the patient to lug around oxygen tanks for respiratory support, which can make living a more normal life difficult.
Alternative Treatment Options:
Stem Cell Therapy- Although stem cell therapy can still be considered a developing science, it has shown remarkable progress and efficacy in treating COPD and other chronic lung conditions. In a practice that is both natural as well as safe, stem cell treatment works in a process of removing blood or bone marrow from a patient, withdrawing its stem cells (natural healing cells) and reinserting them into the body where they can become focused and concentrated within the lungs. Although this form of treatment is not yet covered by traditional insurance outlets (HMOs, Medicare and Medicaid), due to its recent discovery and application, it has shown substantive promise in its ability to contribute to quality of life, symptom relief and the potential to slow disease progression.
COPD life expectancy is perhaps the most important question in one’s path to treatment, so it’s important to know the road ahead in the treatment of COPD. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. However, if you’re looking to address COPD progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox to living a more normal life.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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