Emphysema

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

Understanding COPD Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideCOPD Stages, Symptoms, Emphysema, Bronchitis

COPD Stages, Symptoms, Emphysema, Bronchitis

What is the life expectancy and outlook for someone with emphysema?

Emphysema is a disease that affects quality of life and not necessarily the quantity of life. The goal for treatment of emphysema is to prevent further lung damage, and to maximize the function of the remaining healthy lung tissue.

Symptoms of emphysema occur because the body is not being supplied with adequate oxygen, and because it takes significant effort to take deeper breaths. These both contribute to the very miserable sensation of constantly feeling short of breath.

There are no studies that have been able to predict mortality from emphysema, but studies from the American Lung Association and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 133,000 people died from COPD in 2009. The most recent National Health Interview Survey performed in 2011 found that 4.7 million people had been diagnosed with emphysema and that 24.1 million people had evidence of impaired lung function.

The BODE score can help measure quality of life and prognosis for future function.

  • B = Body Mass Index (BMI).
  • O = Obstruction. Lung function based on pulmonary function tests.
  • D = Dyspnea (breathlessness)
  • E = Exercise capacity. How far the emphysema patient can walk in 6 minutes

Neither the GOLD or BODE scores can predict longevity or mortality but are guidelines to assess the severity of emphysema and how it may affect future lifestyle.

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

Albert, et al, Azithromycin for prevention of exacerbations of COPD, NEJM; 2011;365:689-698.

CDC.gov. Leading Causes of Death.

American Lung Association. Trends in COPD (Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema): Morbidity and Mortality. March 2013.

Medscape. Emphysema.

Medscape. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment & Management.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/4/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Emphysema - Experience

    Please share your experience with emphysema.

    Post View 33 Comments
  • Emphysema - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with emphysema?

    Post View 18 Comments
  • Emphysema - Risk Factors

    What risk factors do you have for emphysema? If so, what lifestyle changes do you plan to implement to prevent progressive emphysema?

    Post
  • Emphysema - Treatments

    What treatments have been helpful in treating emphysema?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Emphysema - Diagnosis

    What kinds of tests and exams did you have that led to a diagnosis of emphysema?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Emphysema - Causes

    If known, what was the cause of your emphysema?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Emphysema - Smoking

    Are/were you a smoker prior to your emphysema diagnosis? If you've stopped, what worked for you?

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors