What Factors Affect Life Expectancy with Pulmonary Fibrosis?

A. Pasbjerg

Though the course of pulmonary fibrosis can vary a great deal from person to person, and there is no definite way to know how fast it will progress in a given case, there are several factors typically considered to influence a person's life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis. People diagnosed at an earlier age, particularly women and non-smokers, often live longer than others. When the disease is recognized within a year of symptoms first setting in and there is minimal lung damage and shortness of breath at the time of diagnosis, patients have a much better chance of increased survival. Other factors that can lead to increased life expectancy are knowing the cause and responding well to treatment early on.

Patients who respond well to treatment for pulmonary fibrosis generally have a better prognosis than patients who do not.
Patients who respond well to treatment for pulmonary fibrosis generally have a better prognosis than patients who do not.

A variety of personal factors often seem to play a role in one's life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis. Those who find out they have the disease when they are younger typically live longer. Women also tend to fare better with pulmonary fibrosis than men. Those who have a history of smoking, and therefore more damage to their lungs, are more likely to have a shorter survival time.

Women and non-smokers diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at a young age will have a longer life expectancy than others.
Women and non-smokers diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at a young age will have a longer life expectancy than others.

Time of diagnosis is also usually very important when estimating how long a patient will live with pulmonary fibrosis. The disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, but those who are diagnosed within the first year after they notice symptoms have a much better chance at a longer life. Their chances are even better if the scarring in their lungs is not too extensive at the time of diagnosis, and if their breathing is still good as well.

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Individuals who have pulmonary fibrosis caused by a known issue often have a better life expectancy than those who do not.
Individuals who have pulmonary fibrosis caused by a known issue often have a better life expectancy than those who do not.

Those who have pulmonary fibrosis caused by a known issue often have a better life expectancy than those who do not. People whose lungs become scarred by infection or diseases like systemic sclerosis are typically able to be treated by addressing the underlying problem. Damage from environmental factors may be reduced if exposure is stopped. Alternatively, those with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, where the cause is unknown, tend to have a shorter survival time.

Woman with pulmonary thrombosis tend to live longer than men.
Woman with pulmonary thrombosis tend to live longer than men.

Another factor that often leads to increased life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis is good response to treatment. This can include medications, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Patients who do well with these treatments within three to six months often have a better prognosis and live longer than those who do not.

A non-smoker will have a better life expectancy than a smoker with pulmonary fibrosis.
A non-smoker will have a better life expectancy than a smoker with pulmonary fibrosis.
If pulmonary fibrosis is not recognized early, more shortness of breath and lung damage is likely to occur.
If pulmonary fibrosis is not recognized early, more shortness of breath and lung damage is likely to occur.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

The article didn't mention it, but I wonder how often a lung transplant is considered as a viable therapy with pulmonary fibrosis? If the condition had a known cause, would a lung transplant be effective, if the cause (like smoking) were removed?

With so many more transplants being done these days, it seems like this would be considered a possible treatment.

Grivusangel

A church member died recently from pulmonary fibrosis. She was 72, and lived about two years after being diagnosed. She was on oxygen the last 8 or 10 months she lived, but other than getting tired very easily and getting short of breath, she was not in any pain.

She had the best doctors in the state treating her, but pulmonary fibrosis usually doesn't have a great prognosis.

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