Life expectancy for patients with end-stage COPD varies widely based on a number of factors, explains the Lung institute. Approximately 90 percent of patients with the most severe emphysema symptoms survive for at least one year, according to WebMD.
Doctors may use several tools to measure a patient's prognosis, including the GOLD system and the BODE index. The GOLD system separates COPD progression into four stages, with stage four representing the most severe cases and the lowest life expectancy, notes the Lung Institute. The BODE index measures lung impairment based on the patient's body mass index, degree of airway obstruction, dyspnea and exercise tolerance, states registered nurse Deborah Leader for About.com. Quitting smoking is the most effective method of slowing the progression of COPD, and studies show that lung function decline normalizes after a patient quits smoking.
After receiving a lung transplant, COPD patients live for an average of five years, says MedicineNet. Patients who have a rapid decline of FEV1, develop right-sided heart failure or experience severe hypoxemia normally have a poor prognosis. COPD patients who are admitted to an ICU have an average mortality rate of 24 percent, with those rates potentially doubling for patients over age 65.