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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Staging of COPD

02/01/2008

Question:

My mother has had COPD for around 7 years. She is 77 years old.She recently had been assigned a nurse to come in two days a week to help her bathe and dry her hair.These things are too difficult for her now. She says doing them just wears her out. She doesn`t walk as much and sits most of the time.She coughs constantly and cannot carry on a conversation without coughing.She is on liquid oxygen and must have it 24/7. She sweats excessively, to the point of her hair becoming wet as a result of the chronic coughing. Generally, with these symptoms what would the life expectancy range be? I realize that you cannot precisely predict, but she has recently paid for her funeral, written her obituary and is writing down how she wants her possessions divided between my siblings and myself. She pretends to be fine and we feel she is untruthful about her true state. What do you think? Should we be seriously comcerned? And, she has frequent bronchitis.Please help.

Answer:

Without knowing more about her overall health status and pulmonary function values, it is difficult to gauge your mother's life expectancy. However, based on your descriptions it sounds like she gets short of breath dressing or is too short of breath to leave the house. Some studies suggest a risk of death at 1 year of about 50% in that setting. It should be noted, however, that survival in individuals with COPD is highly variable.

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Response by:

Mahasti   Rittinger, RRT Mahasti Rittinger, RRT
Clinical Program Manager of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Phillip T Diaz, MD Phillip T Diaz, MD
Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University