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I have emphysema- does breathing ability improve after quitting?

Permanent cessation of smoking by individuals with early COPD (emphysema or bronchitis) improves symptoms and dramatically reduces the progression to clinically serious lung disease as found in the Lung Health Study. If lung disease is more advanced, cessation will result in a slowing in the rate of decline of lung function, but the improvement in symptoms will be more limited. Mortality risk from COPD declines following smoking cessation compared to continued smoking. 

Gritz et al. Smoking Cessation: A Critical Component of Medical Management in Chronic Disease Populations. Am J Prev Med 2007;33(6S) S415 with references to:

  • Anthonisen NR. Lessons from the Lung Health Study. Proc Am Thorac Soc 2004;1:143–5.
  • Burns D. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In: Boyle B, Gray N, Henningfield J, Seffrin J, Zatonski W, eds. Tobacco: Science, policy and public health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
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