Physicians and caregivers can help patients with COPD Lung Disease who are approaching the end of life by knowing the answers to a number of questions, including: What do patients of COPD die of? At what stage should physicians and other caregivers start the end-of-life discussion? Is it possible to place patients in prognostic categories that predict a high risk of death? Which patients should be offered mechanical ven­tilation for acute exacerbations of COPD Lung Disease? What specific measures can be taken to palliate the symptoms associated with near-death COPD Lung Disease?

Causes of death

Studies show the causes of death in COPD Lung Disease patients vary with disease severity and length of follow-up. The Lung Health Study followed smokers with airflow limitation who “did not consider themselves ill” after a smoking cessation intervention. These patients had mild to moderate COPD Lung Disease and were followed for 14.5 years. Of 5887 patients, 731 died. The most frequent causes of death were lung cancer (33%), cardiovascular disease (22%), and cancer in organs other than the lung (21%). Only 57 patients (7.8%) died of respiratory disease other than lung cancer.Incidentally, and importantly, the study showed a mortality benefit from smoking cessation.

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