copd prognosis – Take action now

COPD prognosis is heavily reliant on whether or not the patient is persisting with tobacco smoking. In that condition, continuation of smoking causes irreversible damage to the lungs. Breathing tests help the physician to assess the extent to which the respiratory system and the lungs are impaired. At this point, it needs to be noted that, if the patient stops smoking, a marked improvement in the prognosis of COPD is possible.

In terms of the leading causes of death in the United States, COPD is positioned at number four! In addition, this ailment also leads to several cases of long-term disability. It is estimated that in USA, for every four minutes, one patient of COPD dies as a result of that grave ailment. And on an annual basis, the number of people diagnosed with COPD is a well over twelve million. Actually, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) is a combination of two illnesses – Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. The first one hinders the air-flow, while Emphysema damages air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs.



As COPD worsens, the prognosis could be adversely impacted by various other physical conditions that are direct outcomes of this serious illness (COPD). In advanced stages of COPD, the following are some of the other conditions, which are likely to develop:

  1. Pulmonary hypertension and failure of heart at the right side.
  2. Acute exacerbations
  3. Respiratory failure, which, in all likelihood, is the last stage of the lung ailment.
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Pneumothorax

Smoking: For all those patients who have developed COPD because of tobacco smoking, quitting that habit is the only means for bringing about a substantial improvement in both the symptoms and also the prognosis.





Factors that impact COPD prognosis and outcome:




Smoking status — smoker , former smoker , never smoker

BMI — underweight , normal weight , overweight , obese



Stroke , Cancer

More about COPD prognosis: Majority of patients afflicted with COPD do have some airway obstruction that can be reversed to a certain extent. Owing to that, the initial treatment procedures would bring about some betterment in the function of the lungs. But with the passage of time and as the disease advances, most of the symptoms manifest more severely. This particular phase of the ailment is marked by fluctuations in the condition of the patient. But during the subsequent five years or so, steady deterioration of the lung function and increase in intensity of the physical signs are more or less inevitable.


The recurring attacks of severe cough along with excess of sputum almost fully incapacitate the patients. They take a very long time in recovering from the bouts of cough! Patients whose lungs are very seriously damaged are even prevented from lying down, and are compelled to fall asleep in a half-sitting posture! Most of these patients report that they are frequently awakened in middle of the night with a chocking sensation at the chest!


The duration for which the patients would survive is closely linked with the extent of lung function at the time of initial diagnosis. Likewise, the aspect of survival is also heavily dependent on the rate at which the function of lungs would be lost! On an average, it is projected that patients of COPD would be able to live for a period of one decade from the time when they were first diagnosed with the illness. In this connection, there is vital point that needs to be highlighted. That duration of survival is applicable only for those patients whose loss of lung function is not more than two-thirds, during the first diagnosis.


The course of COPD: The initial symptom of COPD is just a moderate shortness of breath, which is accompanied by mild coughing. After that, the severity of cough steadily increases, and it (coughing) is along with sputum that has no color. As the ailment advances the patient’s physical condition starts to deteriorate. The bouts of coughing become more intense, and the patients are compelled to put extra effort for both inhalation and also exhalation of air. Finally, after a very long time span of untold suffering, death of the patient takes place. By that time, the heart and lungs are no longer capable of supplying oxygen to the vital organs and tissues of the body.


Oxygen Therapy and COPD Prognosis: Oxygen Therapy plays a very key role in improving the prognosis for a patient suffering from COPD. The severe physical distress experienced by COPD patients is chiefly because of low levels of Oxygen in the blood. And Oxygen Therapy is quite effective in treating this condition. Ideally speaking, the patients need to take this therapy almost incessantly. Even otherwise, if Oxygen is administered for about twelve hours in a day, it would be sufficient to a great extent. By addressing the issue of reduced oxygen level, Oxygen Therapy helps in significantly increasing the lifespan of COPD patients. These people (COPD patients) have excess red blood cells in them, resulting from less Oxygen. And the Therapy reduces the quantity of these cells. This form of treatment also plays a pivotal role in bringing down the severity of shortness of breath.  Here, it has to be said that, Oxygen therapy can be of help only if the patients quit all forms of tobacco smoking.


Owing to the contents elaborated in the preceding paragraph, it can be stated that it is more or less imperative for COPD patients to be undergoing Oxygen Therapy. This is so because; apart from minimizing the physical discomfort experienced by the patient; the therapy also extends the lifespan, substantially.


Adverse Prognosis: The rate at which COPD advances varies from patient to patient. But the following are the parameters that strongly suggest that, the prognosis is not pleasant:

  1. A very severe obstruction of airflow.

  2. Abnormally low level of tolerance for physical exercise.

  3. Intense shortness of breath.

  4. The patient being substantially overweight or underweight.

  5. Persisting with tobacco smoking even amidst all the symptoms.

  6. Recurring acute exacerbations