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COPD Stages, Prognosis and Life Expectancy: Here Are Your Numbers

COPD Stages, Prognosis and Life Expectancy: Here Are Your Numbers

With all of the numbers, facts and information you have to remember about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may have many questions. One common question is, “how long can I live with COPD?” It’s an important one to ask, but many people understandably feel too worried or afraid to ask it. Because COPD and other chronic, progressive lung diseases affect everyone differently, there’s no way to accurately predict the life expectancy of people with COPD. However, researchers and doctors have come up with ways to estimate and measure life expectancy and prognosis by placing COPD into stages. The COPD stages, prognosis and life expectancy all work together to help doctors develop a COPD treatment plan for their patients. Here’s what you need to know about COPD stages, prognosis and life expectancy.

How are COPD Stages, Prognosis and Life Expectancy Determined?

Because COPD affects everyone differently and can range from mild to severe, your COPD stages, lung prognosis and life expectancy depend on many varying factors. COPD is a progressive condition, meaning it will worsen over time. Including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, COPD, the third leading cause of death in the United States, is a major obstructive lung disease that currently affects over 11 million people in the U.S. However, it’s estimated that 24 million may have COPD without even knowing it.

Your doctor is likely going to recommend that you have a pulmonary function test (PFT) to determine how well your lungs are working and how well your COPD treatment plan is working. With the pulmonary function test results, your doctor may use that information to aid in determining what stage your COPD is in. In combination with pulmonary function tests, the two most commonly used methods to measure the severity of COPD is through the GOLD System and the BODE Index.

Gold System and COPD Stages

One way to measure prognosis and life expectancy is through the GOLD System of staging, which places COPD into stages based on severity. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) came up with the GOLD System. GOLD uses the forced expiratory volume (FEV1) test from your pulmonary function test to categorize the severity of COPD into stages. The forced expiratory volume (FEV1) shows the amount of air a person can forcefully exhale in one second. COPD has four total stages, and your airflow becomes more limited with each stage.

Here are your numbers and how the GOLD System breaks down the COPD Stages:

  • Stage 1: Very mild COPD with a FEV1 about 80 percent or more of normal.
  • Stage 2: Moderate COPD with a 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

COPD Stages, Prognosis and Life Expectancy: Here Are Your Numbers

Simply put, as the COPD Stage numbers increase, the lung prognosis and life expectancy with COPD worsens.

BODE Index for COPD

Other scientists came up with the BODE Index to measure the severity of COPD. BODE stands for body mass, airflow obstruction, dyspnea and exercise capacity. The BODE Index accounts for how COPD affects your life.

  • Body Mass
  • Airflow Obstruction
  • Dyspnea
  • Exercise Capacity

The body mass index (BMI) helps determine if you’re overweight, obese or underweight. Airflow obstruction refers to your FEV1, which is similar to the GOLD system. Dyspnea means trouble breathing, and exercise capacity refers to exercise tolerance. Many people with COPD take a six-minute walk test—the distance you can walk in 6 minutes—to evaluate their level of exercise tolerance. These combined measurements make up the BODE Index and can be used to put COPD into stages or approximate life expectancy with COPD.

What do the numbers mean in COPD Stages, Prognosis and Life Expectancy?

Unfortunately, COPD worsens over time, and there is no known cure. However, there are treatment options available to help people breathe easier. Medications, oxygen therapy, diet, exercise, natural supplements and stem cell therapy are all COPD treatment options. In fact, many of our patients have seen improved pulmonary function, better quality of life and have reduced or come off of their oxygen therapy. Unlike traditional treatment options, stem cell therapy works to promote healing within the lungs and addresses the problem at its source. If you or a loved one have COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn about your stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.

27 Comments

  1. PB

    4 hours ago

    Dear Shelley,

    Thanks for your comment and question. Because COPD and emphysema affect everyone differently and at different rates of progression, it’s challenging to say or know what life expectancy anyone has with it, so it’s important that your husband sees his doctor regularly, especially if he notices any changes to his symptoms. Quitting smoking is a very important part in any COPD and emphysema treatment plan. Like your husband, many people with COPD and emphysema cough up sputum, and it takes them a while to recover after tasks like mowing the lawn. If you and your husband are interested, you can check out our free smoking cessation guide by clicking here. We hope this is helpful for you both, and we wish you and your husband the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Shelley

    5 hours ago

    My husband has been diagnosed with copd emphysema.
    He is 44 the doctor Jas told him he needs to quit smoking but he won’t he gets up everyday coughing up sputum his doctor has told him he needs to quit and tried to help him but he won’t he mows the lawns and it takes him 2 days to recover what life expectancy is he looking at if he continues to smoke

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  8. PB

    2 months ago

    Dear Amy,

    We’re happy to answer any questions you have regarding stem cell treatment options. Stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, and many of our patients have reported an improved quality of life and better breathing after treatment. You can hear more of their stories by clicking here. To best answer your questions and to discuss your options, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  9. Amy Steinheiser

    2 months ago

    I would also like information on stem cell therapy can you have the therapy if you have had the lung reduction surgery?

  10. PB

    2 months ago

    Dear Amy,

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing some of your story with us. We’re glad to hear that you are feeling better and breathing better after your treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  11. Amy Steinheiser

    2 months ago

    Hi I’m Amy I’m 47years old and 3 months ago I had lung volume reduction surgery I have severe cops I was diagnosed at age 40. The surgery itself was rough but I am so happy I did it I feel so much better and can finally breathe I would like any information from others that have had the same surgery.
    I was so blessed to have wonderful doctors at Cleveland clinic that did my surgery and took such good care of me!! #newleaseonlife

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  15. PB

    3 months ago

    Dear Mina,

    There are a variety of treatments–both traditional and natural–available for people with COPD. Remember to discuss your questions and concerns with your doctor before changing or modifying your current treatment plan. Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type, so it’s best to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to learn more about stem cells, candidacy, treatment options and cost. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  16. PB

    3 months ago

    Dear Betty,

    Thanks for your comment. The Lung Institute has helped patients in a variety of COPD stages, including stage 3 COPD. For many patients, treatment has helped them feel better and improved their quality of life. We’re happy to answer your questions regarding stem cell treatment options, candidacy and cost, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  17. PB

    3 months ago

    Dear Emma,

    Thanks for your comment. While there are herbs, breathing techniques and other natural remedies to help ease COPD symptoms, there is no cure for COPD. It’s important to discuss any changes in your COPD symptoms as well as any alternative remedies you might be considering with your doctor before changing your current treatment plan. You can read more about herbs that help COPD by clicking here. We’re happy to answer your questions regarding stem cell treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  18. Mina

    3 months ago

    Why the medicine is expensive. I am prefer to prepare my natural medicine less money.

  19. Emma tedder

    3 months ago

    I can’t afford stem cell therapy for my severe copd and am very bad at raising money. There has to be another way such as an herb or combination of herbs that can heal the alveoli, stop the mucous issue, and restore breathing capacity.

  20. betty young

    3 months ago

    I’m Betty Young of Cleveland , TN I got the end of stag 3 copd and emphazemia can this treatment help me and I have a & b insurance Medicaid only I’m 60

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  22. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Athena,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear about the breathing issues your partner has been dealing with because of COPD and emphysema. This is an excellent question, but one that is very difficult for us to answer because we’re not your partner’s doctor and don’t know his complete medical history. Deciding what stage your partner is in comes from more than one system of measurement, such as the GOLD System and the BODE Index. Your partner’s doctor will likely want him to have a pulmonary function test, which can be used to help determine what stage of COPD he is in. So, we recommend that you and your partner talk with your partner’s doctor. We wish you both the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  23. Athena

    4 months ago

    My partner has copd and empyhesema he is 36 and got diagnosed 3 years ago he also has bullos diease he has gone into respiratory failure three times he has been told he will have to go on the lung transplant list can u tell me what stage he has

  24. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Teena,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re sorry to hear that COPD has been giving you such a hard time breathing. Like you, many people with COPD use supplemental oxygen at night and sometimes throughout the day to make sure they are receiving enough oxygen. We have written a variety of articles about oxygen, how it affects the body and ways to improve oxygen levels. You can check them out by clicking here. We hope this is helpful for you, and we wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  25. TEENA CRAFT

    4 months ago

    I have COPD I use oxygen at night sometime through the day.they say it’s moderate but it get’s very hard to breath some day’s are like it’s my last.I am applying for SSD but don’t know if they will allow.

  26. PB

    4 months ago

    Dear Kathy,

    Thanks for your questions. Because stem cell transplant and stem cell therapy are two different forms of treatment, doctors use them to treat different diseases. You can read more about stem cell transplant and stem cell therapy by clicking here.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  27. kathy field

    4 months ago

    If stem cell therapy works, then why are doctors not doing it? Why are they still doing transplants if there is something better?

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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