Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease shortens life expectancy, but it is difficult to predict precisely how long an individual can live with the disease, according to Healthline. Factors that influence life expectancy include the severity of COPD, body mass, the degree of breathlessness and exercise tolerance.
Doctors determine the severity of a person's COPD using a staging system developed by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, or GOLD, explains Healthline. The system is based on forced expiratory volume, or FEV1, a test that determines the amount of air a person can exhale forcefully in one second into a measuring device An FEV1 of about 80 percent of normal indicates Stage 1, or mild COPD. An FEV1 below 30 percent or an FEV1 of between 30 and 50 percent with low oxygen levels in the blood is Stage 4, the most severe form of COPD. A more severe disease typically correlates with a shorter life span.
Another way doctors determine an individual's COPD prognosis is the BODE system, which evaluates not only the degree of airway obstruction as measured by FEV1, but also body mass, the degree of dyspnea, or shortness of breath, and exercise capacity, says Healthline. Very thin people tend to have a shorter life span than those who are heavier. Additionally, greater difficulty breathing and low exercise tolerance correlate with poorer long-term survival. Slowing disease progression through lifestyle modification, good nutrition and prescribed breathing exercises is the best way to increase life expectancy.