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COPD smokers can figure out how long they can live based on their pack years

(RxWiki News) Whether smokers go through a pack a day or just a couple of cigarettes, it may be important for patients to keep track of how much they light up.

Looking at the smoking history of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) could help doctors predict how long they'll live.

"Stop smoking - now."

When doctors look at patients with COPD, one of the most common lung diseases, they look at each patient's pack-years, or the number of 20-cigarette packages smoked daily for one year.

The study, led by Saher Shaker, from Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark, found that pack-years is key to predicting how long patients with COPD will live.

They studied 208 people with COPD and measured patients' lung function, number of pack-years and whether they had emphysema, which is a type of COPD.

Researchers accounted for their age and patient history.

From the start of the study, the average survival time was 10.4 years, and 104 patients died by the end.

They found that the age of the patient, the pack-years smoked, and the area of the lungs damaged by emphysema significantly predicted mortality.

“Our results have clinical relevance as we have identified three factors, pack–years, age and area of emphysema, as strong predictors of mortality in COPD," Dr. Shaker said.

"It was also interesting to note that measurements taken from the lung function tests did not reach statistical significance.”

The results are in the preliminary stages and still need to be reviewed.

Information on how the study was funded as well as any conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

The study was presented Sept. 4 at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Vienna, Austria.

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Review Date: 
September 16, 2012