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Emphysema Life Expectancy: Everything You Need to Know

12 Aug 2016
| Under Disease Education, Emphysema, Lung Disease, Medical | Posted by | 2 Comments
Emphysema Life Expectancy: Everything You Need to Know

It’s important to know the road ahead, especially when it comes to emphysema life expectancy.

Time. It’s the most important resource we have, and for those who have been diagnosed with a chronic lung disease such as emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can suddenly be the most important thing on one’s mind. Upon diagnosis, the first questions can often be the most challenging to come to terms with: how much time do I have left? And what can I expect?

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give a clear breakdown of Emphysema Life Expectancy, what staging and severity can mean and everything you need to know moving forward.

Emphysema Life Expectancy in a Nutshell

In the simplest terms, emphysema life expectancy is inherently less than someone free of the disease. On average,  the life expectancy for someone diagnosed with emphysema is five years. However, life expectancy can vary immensely depending on the individual, whether he or she seeks treatment and the type of care that person seeks. From simply maintaining one’s health by controlling their weight, having a balanced diet and exercising, all of these influences can have an effect on not only the quality of life for those with emphysema but their lifespan as a whole. Even quitting smoking can have a dramatically significant effect on mitigating further lung damage and extending one’s life.

So, How is Emphysema Life Expectancy Measured?

Emphysema life expectancy is measured through two prominent systems: the GOLD Emphysema Staging System and the BODE Emphysema Staging System. The GOLD system determines its staging of emphysema patients through the use of the FEV1 metric—the amount of air a person with emphysema can forcefully exhale in one second. The higher the stage, the lower the life expectancy.

Emphysema life expectancy within the GOLD System breaks down into four stages:

  • Stage I- Mild emphysema (a normal life expectancy is common)
  • Stage II- Moderate Emphysema (5+ life expectancy with treatment)
  • Stage III- Severe Emphysema (5+ life expectancy with treatment)
  • Stage IV*- Very Severe Emphysema (Time is limited even with treatment)

*Typically those with Stage IV emphysema are on supplemental oxygen*

However, the GOLD system does not measure quality of life—essentially how the patient feels.

On the other hand, the BODE system was created to more accurately stage emphysema as well as quality of life within a patient, collecting metrics such as weight, airflow limitation (PFTs), breathlessness and exercise capacity through a six-minute walk test.

Emphysema Life Expectancy: Everything You Need to Know

So, What Can I Expect?

To start, always remember that everyone is different. Genetics, weight, diet and exercise have a significant effect on life expectancy that is independent of standard staging procedures. Even in the most severe cases, for 90% of those with emphysema, life expectancy is still at least one year. Although the stages of emphysema can be critically different, no matter what stage you may find yourself diagnosed, you always have the capacity to change your life—and lifespan—through careful diet, exercise and avoiding poor respiratory environments. If you don’t know where to start and you’re currently smoking, start there and quit.

When All Else Fails…

Although a diagnosis such as emphysema can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is through seeking treatments that address the disease head on. If you’re looking to directly address emphysema disease progression, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression, may improve quality of life and pulmonary function within patients. For those who suffer from lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like emphysema, 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.

Interested in Emphysema Life Expectancy: Everything You Need to Know? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. PB

    10 months ago

    Dear Jill,

    Thanks for your question. Stems cells are the body’s natural healing system. They are called to areas that need help. For example, if you cut your finger, stem cells would be called to that area to help it heal. However, the healing process can be slower for people living with chronic conditions, like emphysema and COPD. By extracting the stem cells from the patient, separating them in our on-site lab and returning them to the patient, more stem cells are able to be called to the areas in the lungs that need them most. Once in the lungs, the stem cells aggregate in those areas where they can work to promote healing within the lungs. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for emphysema, COPD and other chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute


    10 months ago


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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.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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