Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Life expectancy of untreated emphysema
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Life expectancy of untreated emphysema

My father (61 years old) was diagnosed with emphysema about 4 years ago.  He's a heavy smoker and mostly inactive.  He doesn't eat well and he drinks alcohol every day.  He WILL NOT receive treatment or medical care for his condition and has no intention of quitting smoking.  Under these circumstances, what can I expect in terms of his physical deterioration and life expectancy?
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Emphysema is a chronic lung disease linked with cigarette smoking and worsened by contact with industrial dusts and other toxins.  This is also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  It is a disease that worsens over time.  There is relatively irreversible obstruction of airflow and actual destruction of the airsacs in the lung.  Normally the airsacs of the lung look like a bunch of grapes.  Emphysema causes destruction of the walls between the airsacs.  Over time these individual airsacs become one large airsac called a bullae.  When this happens there is less surface area for oxygen to get from the lungs into the blood and for carbon dioxide to get from the blood into the lungs to be exhaled.  When a person
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I think you already know that of course he wouldn't live as long as he continues with all his habits which worsen his health as he would if he made some health-promotying changes:  exercising, eating properly, quitting drinking & smoking.

None of us holds a crystal ball, but emphysema DOES progress more rapidly in folks who continue to smoke, particularly those who smoke heavily.  Of course, there are nasty side effects from drinking and inactivity as well.

Good luck to you & your dad--let him know you love him and would like him to consider changes so he can be in your life for longer.
Aloha,
Starion
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