How Long Can You Live With COPD (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 5 years

COPD is a progressive disease that causes trouble breathing. The main cause of COPD is the obstruction in the airways of the lungs. The case of COPD will be more complicated for people with emphysema and bronchitis. COPD happens when the human lungs start getting damaged. Once the lungs get damaged then the airways would get clogged with mucus.

The lung’s tissue capacity to expand would decrease due to the damage of lung tissues. The weak compliance would restrict the oxygen to enter the space where the carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange happen. The person with COPD will go through coughing many times a day to clear out the mucus formed inside the lungs.

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How Long Can You Live With COPD?

COPD How Long Can You Live With COPD
People with mild COPD (Stage 1)2 years or more
People with severe COPD (Stage 4)5 years or more

The person may survive for an average of 5 years. The life expectancy after someone is diagnosed with COPD depends on the health, lifestyle, and age of the person. The intensity and severity of COPD are important to predict the life expectancy of the patient.

Patients with mild COPD can survive more than 5 years, whereas people with severe COPD may not survive for more than 2 years. The life expectancy of the patients with COPD may get increased if the patient has taken correct steps to help the symptoms of COPD.

COPD is not a sentence of death as many people can survive for 70 to 80 years with COPD. COPD gets triggered by health problems such as pneumonia. People that are free from any respiratory problems can increase their lifespan.

GOLD (Global initiative on obstructive lung diseases) is used by professionals and doctors to know how severe COPD is for any patient. The method would understand how much air someone can exhale in just one second. In this method, the patient would have to blow into a spirometer (a plastic tube) to measure the air exhaled by the person.

GOLD is also known as the FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) test.

GOLD 1- The stage of COPD is mild
GOLD 2- The stage of COPD is moderate
GOLD 3- Chronic bronchitis or emphysema is severe
GOLD 4- The stage of COPD is extremely severe
The people in higher stages with COPD in the GOLD test would have less life expectancy. The doctors would identify the stages and grades of GOLD according to the symptoms of the patients.

Why Can You Live This Long With COPD?

COPD will cause breathing difficulties, respiratory infections, and damage to lungs tissues. All these complications will not let the patient live for a longer time. The most common and dangerous cause of COPD is smoking and tobacco habits.

Smoking can reduce the expected lifespan of people with COPD. The reduction for life expectancy for all the former and current smokers with age 65 years would be:

Stage 1- 0.3 years            

Stage 2- 2.2 years

Stage 3- 5.8 years

Stage 4- 5.8 years

For women who are current smokers in stage 2 of COPD, the reduction of life expectancy would be 5 years. Some of the other irritants, such as pipe smoke, air pollution, and exposure to dust and fumes can cause complications of COPD.

The beginning of COPD starts with the air going down in the trachea (Windpipe) and then entering the lungs through bronchi. Bronchi is a type of tube that is divided into so many forms just like the branches of a tree. These bronchioles then have a bunch of alveoli (air sacs). The capillaries are the blood vessels of the walls of the air sac.

The capillaries play a vital role in entering the oxygen someone breathes into the bloodstream. The natural elasticity of the lungs is important to make air out of the body. After getting affected with COPD, the patient would lose the elasticity of the lungs. This would trap some air inside the lungs when the person exhales.


People with asthma should be careful about COPD. Asthama can increase the severity of COPD as it is a chronic airway inflammation disease. COPD can lead to various other health problems such as lungs cancer, heart problems, and blood pressure in lung arteries. Depression can be a repercussion of COPD.

Quitting bad habits and getting all the flu vaccinations on time may help in preventing infections.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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