What is my husband's life expectancy if he has COPD with emphysema?

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My husband has COPD with emphysema, bullous, lung fibrosis and had a heart attack and 3 stints in last 6 months. The Dr has not told us what stage he is in. He tires easily. He still smokes and drinks beer everyday. He cries a lot and tells me he knows he is dying. What can I do to help him?

Answers 1 to 10 of 27
I'm sorry you and your husband are going through this. Almost everything we read or hear about tells us that no matter what our health condition that to stop smoking is the single best thing to do. But I remember reading in the 70's that to stop smoking is extremely difficult and I've always believed that. At the same time I've seen many quit. If your doctor can't tell you your husbands prognosis we, on this site, surely can not. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country, maybe the world. A radical change of diet and habits could change his life expectancy. He has to want it enough to get the help and follow through and usually that means a radical life style change for the entire family. Having said that I don't think people realize how just a few steps in the healthy direction can really make a big difference. Walking 10 min a day this week and 15 min a day next week up to 20 or 30 min can really help. Losing 10% of body weight can cause the "bad" numbers to get much better. Is your husband on oxygen? Does he try to limit the number of drinks or cigarettes he has per day? Has he tried antidepressants? Regardless of whether he (and you) choose to make a concerted effort for him to get better, at least decide to live each day he has left to the best of your ability. Talk to his dr about antidepressants and/or anxiety meds. Ask about physical or occupational therapy. Have his B vitamins checked. B 12 supplementation might make him feel a lot better. Remember his heart dr is probably just focused on his heart. Also include his primary, pulmonary and a physciatrist in the mix. Some people will not want to make the effort and that is their right but again, a small effort can make him feel better and perhaps able to make a little more of an effort. Take care of yourself as well. It won't help him to forgo your own healthcare. Come back and let us know how you are going.
One of my relatives with heart disease has had incredible results using Dr Esselstyn 's methods for heart disease reversal, which can pull some of the cholesterol out of the clogs. Statins and other meds are still used, as this complements statins, stints, etc. As a result, most of my family has started following his diet to some extent, and the young men of the family - the ones most likely to have heart disease at an early age - have total cholesterols below 100. The Engine 2 7 Day rescue diet is a starting point also, but Dr Esselstyn addresses heart disease and other disease directly. Might want to look him up and see if his practice is in your area or look at his most recent book.
My husband has heart disease and eating oatmeal and watching his diet has really helped his cholesterol level and overall health. To say diet is important is an understatement.
SIL has COPD and uses oxygen sometimes....still smokes, is physically very inactive and lives with her 86 yr old mother. Stopping smoking is the most important thing you can do. When I stopped smoking 21 years ago after a 21 yr. habit at a pack a day, sometimes more...I did it cold turkey and kept telling myself "I am not a smoker...why would I want a cigarette?" I took my mind back to when I didn't smoke, and concentrated on things I liked back then...foods, books, colors, etc. This mind set helped me to overcome my cravings and I never touched another cigarette also telling myself that I had my ration of cigarettes to last a lifetime so I could not have any more. This mental tactic worked for me. If he cannot entirely quit...at least try to get him to cut down.
If your husband continues as is he will prove himself right: he will die. Quite quickly. I'm sorry to be blunt, but it's obvious and avoiding reality is no help to him.

Believe me, the consequences of emphysema can get a heck of a lot worse than bullae and still not kill him.
But if he cuts back hard on the booze, stops smoking completely, starts taking exercise, follows his doctor's prescriptions to the letter, loses weight and so on and so on, he can still hugely improve his chances of survival.

Are you sure that is what he wants?

Your husband needs to get help with some talking therapy. He sounds depressed, and you need to find out if he is and why. There maybe more to this, than his illness. If he is depressed and gets help, this should help him with his illness too. Speak to his doctor.
Top Answer
Without knowing your husband's exact medical condition it is difficult to give helpful advice.
He may actually be dying, so getting some real information out of his Drs will help you both even though it may not be what you want to hear. getting the truth out of a Dr can often be like pulling teeth but don't give up.
Stopping smoking is always a good thing to do and always improves health. However if he is actually in the last stage of his life and smoking brings comfort leave him alone he knows the risks. Same applies to the beer as long as he does not over indulge and become unmanageable let him be, again he already knows the risks of alcoholism so leave him alone. Of course continue to provide healthy meals and encourage him in a healthy life style but otherwise offer comfort in any way you can without becoming a victim yourself.
Accepting one's approaching death is something that most people don't do well. Paramount is the fear of the unknown but some are able to rise above this and put their lives in the hands of the Lord. 
Fear of the actual dying process is also in the forefront of the minds of many and this can bring huge depression. In your husband's case he almost certainly knows that his COPD will get worse and breathing will become even more difficult, his heart will also probably begin to fail and fluid will build up in his body. His kidneys and liver may also fail which will have unpleasant side effects. 
What can you actually do to help?
First of all recognize the realities and make preparations for his inevitable passing whenever it occurs. See an attorney and get all the legal paper work in order. Make sure his will is current and you have the proper authority to handle finances and medical decisions. Would he for instance want to go to the hospital and be put on life support? Does he want to be a DNR? How about IVs and forms of artificial feeding. Choose your funeral home and make those arrangements. Check any life insurance policies and make sure premiums are up to date. This may be a good time to consult with hospice. If there is a choice in your area interview several. Consult his Dr about the continual crying that is distressing both to him and you. There are plenty of antidepressants around that can make a difference. Also think about asking for morphine if he has trouble breathing. Many people are against it's use and I do respect that point of view but the reality is that it does relieve the feelings of breathlessness and very small doses do not put people in a coma. Remember you and he always have the final say about any treatment.
This is not going to be an easy time for either of you and if he does not have the will to continue living, and he may have very good reasons, it is certain that he will not. This is not something you can "fix" however many helpful suggestions you recieve. Only your husband can improve his situation
COPD is a complex and irreversible condition most often caused by smoking. The lung walls become stiff and brittle and continually expand so that the patient must take in more air with each breath in order to maintain enough oxygen ultimately gasping for air that can often be similar to the sensation of drowning. The main problem is that the lungs are not able to contract when exhaling so the patient's breathing and breath support is forever compromised. The lungs stay permanently in this expanded state and only get more stiff, brittle, and the mucus layer loses its supple and flexible quality. The lungs become exceedingly enlarged so that the patient can never take in enough air. The lungs continue to fill up with a limited supply of new air as the old air remains trapped in the ever expanding, hard, stiffened lungs. Patients are frequently relegated to wheel chairs as they are unable to walk or exercise in any productive way. They are forced to eat a puréed or liquid diet as they can no longer control the chew, swallow, breathe sequence without risking aspiration. Most patients are forced to deal with portable oxygen tanks which further restricts the individual's mobility. Your husband needs to see a pulmonologist who will speak honestly and frankly to him about why he is continuing to jeopardize his life in a most painful and depressing way - especially by continuing to smoke and drink beer. Again, COPD is irreversible but he may be able to slightly slow the progression of his diseases by quickly giving up his unhealthy habits.
As far as I know no one has an "expiration date" tattooed on the bottom of their foot.
Everyone is different even with the same diagnosis.
The best you can do is accept that this is a life limiting disease and make the best of what you have.
Adjust to what your husband can now do and enjoy that. As his condition becomes worse he will be able to do less and less so relish what you have now.
Help him accept what is going on.
Trying to get him to stop smoking will only frustrate the heck out of you and probably make him dig in his heels even more. And in reality what will stopping now do? Is another week going to make a difference? a month?
He knows he should stop, I am sure you have told him, his doctor has told him so this is nothing new. The only person that can get him to stop is him. And he has to want to do it for himself. (Just make sure he is not smoking when he is on oxygen)
As to the "stages" I went through looking up stages when my Husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I have come to the conclusion there are no real defined areas of "stages" as I said at the start everyone is different and your husband may have signs in all stages but no signs in some of them. So do you pick the sign or symptom he has in the final stage and say that is where he is or do you say ..well he is not having the 2 symptoms in the first stage does that mean he is still in stage 1?
I gave up on "stages" and accepted the decline my Husband had and was grateful that he did things longer than many but was sad by the fact that he stopped some things far sooner than I would have hoped.
The best thing you can do is help your husband through the difficult times and allow both of you to accept help when it is needed.
Call Hospice before you think either of you need it as I am sure he would qualify before you would think he would. Accept the help and support that they will provide. If he is a Veteran contact the VA and find out if there are any programs that might help, and if his condition may be related to any Service injury. (this would be a great help for you both)
Oh, and the fact that he tells you he knows he is dying...we all are...no one gets out alive, we begin dying the day we are born.
Depression is a huge problem with COPD; I watched it with my beloved mom. In her case, and maybe this will be instructive to you, it made it impossible for her to proactively do anything to improve her health because she just didn't see that anything would matter or make things better. I felt compelled to give her ideas--quit smoking! Try to get outside for a walk! Try some herbs to help clear the toxins from your lungs!--but when you don't feel anything matters, how can you try new things that might be challenging even for a more mentally healthy person?

I now wish I had spent less time trying to fix things for my mom, and more time just telling her how incredibly much I loved her and how much it meant to me to have her here on this planet. Maybe being impressed upon with her value to others would have at least given her the motivation to take an antidepressant, which might have made the other things easier. If your husband could be moved to try an antidepressant, you might have more luck with some of the other excellent suggestions here. Warm wishes to you both.
I agree with the depression and if this is the case it should be addressed.
And while we are talking about your Husband...you may want to talk to someone as well, depression in caregivers is a very important subject that is often ignored, overlooked or just not addressed as many think it is not "important"

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