Emphysema (Lung Condition) (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

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.

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 4/16/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Emphysema - Experience Question: Please share your experience with emphysema.
Emphysema - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with emphysema?
Emphysema - Risk Factors Question: What risk factors do you have for emphysema? If so, what lifestyle changes do you plan to implement to prevent progressive emphysema?
Emphysema - Treatments Question: What treatments have been helpful in treating emphysema?
Emphysema - Diagnosis Question: What kinds of tests and exams did you have that led to a diagnosis of emphysema?
Emphysema - Causes Question: If known, what was the cause of your emphysema?
Emphysema - Smoking Question: Are/were you a smoker prior to your emphysema diagnosis? If you've stopped, what worked for you?