What is the life expectancy of a stage 4 COPD patient that does not stop smoking?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 01, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is 60 years old and from what I have read she has stage 3 or stage 4 COPD. She has smoked for 45 years and still smokes. She is currently in the hospital with a COPD flare up. She has been in hospital for four days and counting. What is the life expectancy of a stage 4 COPD patient that does not stop smoking?

Expert Answers

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

I hope your mother recovers quickly. Based on original studies, someone with a grade 4 COPD (which is also called "very severe" COPD) has a 60% chance of living 3 years. If we are talking about a grade 3 COPD (also called "severe" COPD), then there may be an 85% chance of living 3 years. Everyone is of course going to be different. Your mother's younger age (less than 65 years) gives her a bit of an advantage, but the continued smoking probably more than cancels this out.

More recent studies have shown that beyond the grade of the disease there is a better predictor of the prognosis of COPD, called the "BODE" index. This predictor includes other factors such as the results of a breathing test, combined with the extent of shortness of breath, the distance one can walk in 6 minutes, and the body mass index. The BODE index can easily be done in a physician's office.

There are several things your mother can do to improve her prognosis, the most important one being complete smoking cessation. Other possibilities include using oxygen (if her oxygen is low), and perhaps the use of inhalers treatments (which can also reduce her risk of flare ups such as the one she now has). It is always a good idea to stay active, and I would suggest participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. In addition to the exercise part, such a program will often include discussions and help on smoking cessation.

Community Answers

Gregmiller answered...

my mother was in End Stage Emphysema which I assume is stage 4. With the help of an Osteopath, a change in diet (an extreme change), the addition of certain supplements, getting rid of most of the medications her doctor prescribed after they stopped working (they only masked symptoms anyway. No actual healing or lasting improvement.), the addition of 2 medications agreed upon by the Osteopath that are never prescribed for emphysema or COPD my mother, much to my surprise and her doctors', she recovered.

I have now helped more than 1000 people do the same yet most doctors call it quackery yet it worked and my mother got well! Read her story and the various things I did and the Osteopath did at my web site or email me. I would be glad to share it with you.