What is life expectancy after a diagnosis of stage one COPD?

27 answers | Last updated: Feb 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What is an average life expectancy after a diagnosis of stage one COPD?


Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is a senior medical editor at Caring.com and a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics. She also provides housecalls and geriatric consultations in San Francisco.

Stage I COPD is also known as mild, or early, COPD. There can be quite a lot of variation in how quickly a person's COPD worsens, but if a person stops smoking and gets good medical treatment, it usually takes years for COPD to progress to more advanced stages.

Because of this, the life expectancy of a person with Stage I COPD is mainly affected by other factors, such as age, other chronic illnesses, and overall health status.

In general, research studies have found that using stage of COPD by itself is not a very accurate way to predict life expectancy or mortality. Instead, doctors can make better predictions when they incorporate additional information; one popular model (known as BODE) assigns points based on FEV1, body-mass index, distance a person can walk in 6 minutes, and how short of breath the person usually feels.

Still, one group of researchers recently did try to address this very question of life expectancy by stage of COPD. They concluded that for otherwise healthy 65-year-old men with Stage I COPD, life expectancy ranges from 14 to 18 years, depending on whether the person was a current, former, or never smoker. For otherwise healthy 65-year-old women with Stage I COPD, life expectancy ranges from 17.2 to 20.5 years. These Stage 1 life expectancies are only very slightly shorter than for "normal" people without COPD.


Community Answers

Katosboss answered...

Thanks however my original inquiry was about a 89 year old being diagnosed with stage II that also has anxiety and consequently hypertension. Plus what I'm really trying to find out is what to expect next since I'm trying to plan for the future. If it is unique for each individual then I'll be satisfied with that answer.


A fellow caregiver answered...

Ok, this is interesting but what about me, I am 42 in stage 2 and still am fighting to lessen and give up smoking...What would be my life expectation? 7 years because I'm in stage 2 and still not kicked the habit? Just thinking like that drives me insane... I'm afraid to go see a lung docter and have a X-ray, I am sooo darn afraid I have to leave my beautifull home on the second floor, leave the city I live in because of the poor air quality :-(


A fellow caregiver answered...

To the 42 yr. old...please try to quit smoking, no matter what! I am 52 and have been smoke free for 2 mos., only because I am seeing my beloved mother die before my eyes from COPD. She is 77 and was diagnosed about 5 yrs ago with COPD...no particular "stage". She continued to smoke for about a year until she could physically, no longer do so. Every two weeks she was at the doctor's office, getting steroids and antibiotics. If only she would have quit smoking at the time of diagnosis, she wouldn't already be at Stage 4. She is now at home, on oxygen around the clock, steroids every day, breathing treatments with a nebulizer every 2 hours, can only walk to her bathroom and back to bed and struggles for every breath. She is always in a state of panic, trying to breathe. It breaks my heart to see what she is going through, but I won't let her die in vain. It took a while to quit smoking, sine I was a smoker for 25 yrs., but I did it and you can too! Think of them as the enemy, instead of a comforting friend...they will kill you. :(


A fellow caregiver answered...

To the 42 yr old, I agree with the 52 yr old! I was diagnosed with COPD two months ago after years of shortness of breath, when I finally found out what it was, I was relieved. I also smoked for 25 yrs & I quit 6 wks ago. DO NOT BE AFRAID to go see a lung doctor. Fear will only make you stress out more than you already are. Trust God & go see a doctor for your sake. AND, quit smoking.......


Vergee answered...

My husband is in the severe stages of the copd. We have been married only 2 and a half years now. He was diagnosed 2 years ago after having an exacerbation after getting very sick and being stubborn not going to the doctor and letting it go. This again happened this January same senerio and over 20,000 in debt due to both hospitalizations . We ended up having to file bankrupsty on them this year. He ends up in the hospital EVERY January and my gut tells me this January will be NO different, He is still stubborn as hell and smoking about 1 pack per day. He is currently sick and has finished a dose of 5 day antibiotic's, and we shall see if the help. This time I got so sick and disgusted with listening to him cough , gag and struggle f or his breath have decided , I need to quit so that my daughter and grandchildren do not have to listen to the same. Last Saturday at 11:30 a.m. I put down what I am praying was my last cigarette. I keep praying he will do the same. If not he will die soon and it may very possibly cost him his marriage just due to he is a complete selfish ass, and thinks of no one except himself!!!


A fellow caregiver answered...

I am 70 have smoked for 61 years just found out I have stage 1 of COPD. I grew up in a family with lung disease, smokers and non-smokers, and was with my mother when she died of fibrosis of the lungs 11 years ago. You are young and quit smoking I wish I had years ago. I also worked in chemicals that were the main reason but the smoking has not helped. I hope you will go to the Dr. and also quit smoking.


Ed. rn answered...

I am 62 years old and in stage 3 or two of COPD depending on which doctor you talk to. I quit smoking about 3 years ago but I kept going back to it because of the horrible addiction that it is. My lung doctor was able to put me on chantix all the time and not just for the recommended 3 months and that has kept me smoke free for a long time now. Also because I went to the lung doctor she wrote me a prescription for pulmonary rehab. I have never exercised on a regular basis until now. I couldn't believe how much better I felt and my breathing was easier with the rehab.I probably smoked for pretty close to 50 years. I know how horrible it is to try and quit. But do everything you can to do it.


Arbycoffee answered...

I had had COPD since 06, quit smoking 10+ years before. I am on 6 liters air 24/7. Bottle air where ever I go. But still run a motel and tat shop. I think your outlook has more to do with life expectancy, than all of the rest, oh I am also over weight and 65 too. We are living for a reason, find your reason and you will live darn near forever.


A fellow caregiver answered...

PLEASE stop smoking ,my 45 year old friend has just died of copd ,he smoked since being a child to the day he died ,which was feb 11 ,he didn't help himself and should still be here


Family tradition answered...

My brother just died from COPD Feb 28 he was in and out of the Hospitals just about every year for the past ten ,was a smoker quit four yeas ago. Smoked most of his life he was 64. Horrible way to go struggling for every breath. My mother passed away 30 years ago from it at 57 smoker would not listen to her doctor he gave her five years he was correct she smoked her whole life. Can be a slow agonizing death. I am 57 and have COPD smoked for 16 years 2-3 packs a day I quit 16 years ago this coming August. I am in stage two,the stage is not important,how you take care of your self is ,as COPD is not reversible only progresses . Only be afraid, if you do nothing and want to hurt the ones you love. Read up on it ,and do what your doc says, exercise diet can be a big help and slow this disease down . Be smart quit now. I find that being a born again Christian helps me through all things. I have other medical things that complicate COPD .Remember this affects your heart which affects other organs so get in shape and fight it and enjoy life and do not harp on it is there and we need to deal with it.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm 53 and I am in the worst stage of COPD.I have what is called full lung expansion.Although I was unable to quit smoking right away,I did some make drastic lifesyle changes.i quit using salt;I quit drinking milk and I started drinking almond milk with vanilla.It has been suggested to me that you we should eat an anti-inflammatory foods such as a mediterrenean foods and spices.I have vitals of that of a twenty year old but lungs of 102 Life is about quality not quantity but if you want some quantity put them cigarettes down and get to living unfortunately I learned the hard way I never ever thought I was going to die but I am because I did not listen to others .Step one learn your disease because the minute you quit smoking your chance of heart disease drops by 50%from smoking and there is alot more information like that on the web.So all in alll embrace all this information with an open mind and may the lord blless you abundantly so you don't use your frequent flyer miles sooner than you have to.New deal i'm checinkg out cocunut oil.God bless


Beejay n answered...

I smoked since the age of 9 (quite a lot from the age of 16). When I retired almost three years ago, I told my wife I was going to try to stop smoking. It was hell, but I have not smoked for nearly three years. However, after 15 months of not smoking and being short of breath I found I had COPD. I still do not smoke and don't feel any worse than I did, in fact, I probably feel better than when I was diagnosed. My doctor is confused. Just go for day to day living.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm 52 years old, and quit smoking after 38 years with the help of Chantix. I've been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis (COPD stage 1-2, doc not sure yet, I think 2), and am obese. I began exercising for 30 minutes daily (alternate days between a ladies gym, and walking my dog). During walking, I'm up to 1.5 mi. each session, and working on increasing my endurance. My diet is not a problem, as I eat a healthy diet. I'm excited that I already feel better and am able to breath easier during exercise. I'm also looking forward to increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise. Quitting smoking was the most difficult thing I've ever done!!! In the last 2 years, I tried quitting 6 times: cold turkey, gum, patches, and finally the Chantix! I wanted to quit for my 50th birthday, but didn't give up until finally succeeding now. Please don't give up quitting smoking!!! Tobacco addiction is a horrible, vile battle, but quitting smoking is like opening the doors to a wealth of blessings, a priceless gift of self-love.


Sallee answered...

Please get the nicotine tablets at CVS odor other chain store. Store brands are cheaper 2 and 4 MG. Start with 4 and move to 2 (one every two hours ) My mom, sister and I all used them. One every 2 hours. You will not have horrible quit smoking side effects. Yes you are still getting nicotine, but it is less about and you're not getting the tar and cancer causing smoke in your lungs. It works. I use them got 3 months. Been quit fir 9 years. My mom has COPD and she is on oxygen 24/7. She would not be here at all had she not quit. Life is difficult for her but it is full with love and family....


Raz8 answered...

I am 58 years old smoked for a long time since I was 7, Went to work one day. Started weezing,my coworker comented, got home that evening could't breath.Went to the hospital the treated me and diagnosed me with COPD. Didn,t quit smoking went 6 months and wasn,t getting any better.Woke up one morning hacking as usual started smoking a cig and just couldn't .Went to see a doctor then a specialist.That was 2 years ago I fight off the urge to smoke everyday take my meds and exercise all of this is new to me. Now I can breath , go to work and enjoy life.Had I not done this I would surely be dead now Quit smoking! See a doctor your life might depend on it.


Papa big bear answered...

About to turn 67 and have COPD. Don't know what stage it is and don't want to know. It is what is and I'm just trying to make the best of it. Smoked for 50 years and towards the end, did about two packs a day. Quit cold turkey over a year ago when first diagnosed. Tough as hell but you can do it. If your COPD diagnosis doesn't do the trick, try picturing someone you admire who has successfully quit. My symptoms are no worse now then when first discovered. Haven't had a bronchitis attack in over a year.


Chonne answered...

I am 35. I just got diagnosed with stage 2 c.o.p.d. today ( 3/10/15 ). I started smoking when I was about 13. The last smoke I had was before I saw my doc today. I'll never smoke again. Hopefully ill give my lungs a better chance to not progress much worse. I also have very high blood pressure quoting smoking is my only option if I want to see 50.


Meag answered...

My boyfriend just got recently diagnosed with stage 1 copd and dr said he has lungs of a 60yr old. Hes only 22 and refuses to quit smoking :/ I just want answers before it gets worse.


Judev answered...

After what I thought I was diagnosed with was mild to moderate COPD, I continued to smoke and once again presented to the ER with exacerbation. This time, I got a rotating pulmonary doctor who asked me how I knew I had mild to moderate COPD. I told him of the tests I had and he looked them up and said, "You don't have mild to moderate COPD, you have SEVERE COPD and if you don't quit smoking, you'll be on oxygen by next year." That did it. I went home and started Buproprion and quit about a week later. That was in February of 2011. I remain taking Symbicort daily and have actually reduced my Spiriva intake but still have it available to take on those weather-related bad breathing days. (I live in the Midwest). Quitting smoking was the best thing I ever did for myself. Once you get past all the trigger stuff and psychological urges, it's like you never smoked in your life. However, I have a daily reminder, when I over exert myself, that I was a smoker. It's a sorry place to be but I hope to continue living a longer and more productive life. I will be 60 this year and I want to see 80!


Cacklea answered...

I was diagnosed in November with COPD. No stage given. I stopped smoking 43 years ago. I use Serevent twice daily. I do not believe I have COPD. I think I have allergies.


Ruca617 answered...

Hi everyone, I have lupus and went in for a ct scan of the chest bc of enlarged nodes and hardened tissue around breasts.. they ended up finding mild emphysematous changes in my lung. i am scared stiff. I am a mother of 3 young children and i am scared to death that the lupus is going to significantly increase the lung problems.. can someone please reasuure me that it IS possible to live another 25 years.. as long as it is in fact mild, and i stop smoking and get the lupus under control.. is it possible i will live to see my youngest get married? please help.


Littledown answered...

My very best friend has COPD. I have not asked her if she is still smoking as I don't want her to feel uncomfortable and it is, after all, her choice. At one stage she was on oxygen for 15 hours a day My late husband and I smoked but both stopped many years ago (he died of blood cancer nothing to do with smoking) He offered time and time again to pay for our friend to attend a cessation clinic. This worked for me but not cheap my husband went "cold turkey". She has always maintained that is her only pleasure ??


Sweet katt answered...

Hmm. I am 53, quite fit and healthy really, I go walking and cycling and have a young son, never smoked apart from a bit of weed in my 20s... But I have been diagnosed with COPD due to lung xrays which showed up damage and hyperinflation and my constant debilitating cough & tight chest. When I look on the web, it says if lung xrays show up damage, then it means the COPD is severe, but is this really the case ? I don't have any shortness of breathe and always bound up our stairs in our house.... (So I am wanting more info...) Is this really something that is going to kill me ? My Doctor seemed slightly dismissive...


A fellow caregiver answered...

For any one who wants to stop smoking, join a support group. You can find NicotineAnonymous.com on line. It saved me (secretive smoking) and my friend's life. I only smoked a little after 1973 quit. Could not give up those few cigs for about 10 years. Unfortunately she is 84 and on oxygen full time now. She was a heavy smoker for or 51 years and quit 16 years ago. Use the patch, use anything, but you can do it. NA is a wonderful group of people and even has online groups.


Snake1 answered...

I have just been told i have copd i have not been told how bad or how bad it can get i have given up smoking but dont know much about copd as docs never told me so found out wot it meant by myself still dont understand much about the diease


Celeste holmes answered...

I am 72 and was diagnosed with COPD maybe seven years ago. I kept smoking until I went in the hospital with pneumonia. They could not get air into my lungs and were near intubating me. I pulled out of it. I went home and quit smoking two weeks later thanks to the e-cigarettes. Never smoked since and do not miss it thanks to the e-cigs. My doctor said that anyone using oxygen is at level four. I need it 24/7 or my oxygen level drops to 83 and with the oxygen it is at 93-94. I always test it with my oxymeter that you can buy at CVS or Walgreens. I also have two inhalers that help me. One is Advair and the other one is Asmanex Twisthaler and I use them daily. I also have the rescue inhaler if I feel anxious. It helps to sleep in a recliner because with COPD you are not suppose to lay flat down. Feel free to write me if you want.