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Stage 4 COPD: End-Stage COPD and You

1 Nov 2016
| Under COPD, Disease Education, Medical | Posted by | 10 Comments
Stage 4 COPD: End-Stage COPD and You

As you know, there are four total stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ranging from mild to very severe. Stage 1 COPD is also known as mild COPD, and stage 2 COPD is the moderate stage at which recognizable symptoms often first appear. As COPD progresses, your COPD stage will also change to reflect the severity of your symptoms. Severe stage COPD, or stage 3 COPD, causes significant changes in symptoms, lung health and overall health. The final stage of COPD is also known as stage 4, or very severe. Here’s everything you need to know about stage 4 COPD or end-stage COPD.

Determining Stage 4 COPD

As in previous stages of COPD, your doctor will likely use the GOLD System and the BODE Index to identify stage 4 COPD. By this stage, you’ve likely had multiple lung function tests and exercise tolerance tests, such as pulmonary function tests and 6-minute walk tests. Seeing your doctor regularly is important during any stage of COPD, but it’s especially important during stage 4.

In the GOLD System, stage 4 COPD is categorized as end-stage COPD with a lower forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) than stage 3, or those with a stage 3 FEV1 and low blood oxygen levels.

Stage 4 COPD

During stage 4 COPD, many people have significant airflow limitations, which often drastically affect their lives. In fact, simple tasks, such as taking a shower, making the bed or cooking a small meal, leave them feeling exhausted and completely out of breath. While lung function can vary, typically during stage 4, lung function drops to 30 percent or less.

Your doctor will closely monitor your pulmonary health and overall health. Because COPD flare-ups worsen symptoms and can be life-threatening, your doctor will work with you to manage and prevent them.

If you experience low blood oxygen levels, your organs, cells and tissues are unable to receive enough oxygen. Oxygen is essential to a properly functioning body, but many people with COPD have difficulty getting adequate oxygen. Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy to help you receive more oxygen.

For some people, other conditions that can occur along with COPD may worsen as well, such a heart failure. If you notice a change in your symptoms or feel ill, your doctor will likely want to make sure you’re not having a COPD flare-up.

Stage 4 COPD Treatments

Stage 4 COPD: End-Stage COPD and You

COPD is a progressive disease, and there’s no cure. However, you and your doctor will work together to develop or modify your treatment plan to best fit your needs. There are many different treatment options, such as medications, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies.

For the management of stable stage 4 COPD, your doctor may prescribe inhalers, corticosteroids to help you breathe better. For example, your doctor may prescribe inhalers called bronchodilators, which help relax and open your airways. Your doctor may also prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

Sometimes you may need a type of inhaler called a combination inhaler. Combination medications combine two types of medicine in the same drug, such as a bronchodilator and a steroid in the same inhaler.

In the event of a COPD flare-up, your doctor could prescribe antibiotics, oral steroids or even hospitalization. Remember to report any changes in your symptoms or overall health to your doctor. It’s also important to stay up-to-date on your flu and pneumonia vaccinations to reduce and prevent flare-ups from happening.

For many people, alternative treatment, such as stem cell therapy has helped them get back to their favorite activities. In fact, some people have reported reducing their oxygen therapy use after treatment, feeling better and breathing easier. Stem cell therapy works differently than traditional medications. While traditional medications can help manage COPD symptoms, stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially addressing disease progression.

Stage 4 COPD Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle changes. One of the most important lifestyle changes you can make is to quit smoking. Smoke is a lung irritant and trigger for COPD symptoms. While quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free is challenging, there are smoking cessation tips, treatments and groups to help you succeed. Give our free smoking cessation guide a try.

Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise have been proven to help people with COPD enjoy a better quality of life. Too much salt can worsen COPD and heart problems, so try seasoning your food with herbs instead. Gentle exercises like yoga, walking and Tai Chi are excellent options for people in any stage of COPD with limited mobility.

Combining lifestyle changes, medications and alternative therapies, like stem cell therapy, can help you live a more active life. COPD prognosis and life expectancy vary; however, from stage 1 COPD to stage 4 COPD, these treatment options are available. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about your stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Phoebe

    4 days ago

    Dear Jim,

    Thanks for your comment and for sharing some of your story with us. We extend our deepest sympathies to you and your family.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Jim

    5 days ago

    My first wife died from emphysema at 46. She was on a ventilator her last six months. Stop smoking. If not for you, for those that love you.

  3. Matt

    2 weeks ago

    Hello Marie,
    Thank you for your post. COPD affects individuals differently, but sleep problems are a common occurrence for people with the disease. You can read more about this by clicking the link. If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. Thanks again and have a great day.

  4. Marie

    2 weeks ago

    My husband was diagnosed.with stage 4 copd. He has been sleeping on and off for the last 2 weeks during the day and at night. Has no energy. Is that what happens with stage 4

  5. Matt

    2 months ago

    Hello Howard,
    Thank you for your post. If you are interested in learning more about stem cell therapy for lung disease, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. Thanks again and have a great day.

  6. howard

    2 months ago

    im 52 i have stage 4 copd..my ins wont pay for oxygen, iv contacted ssi…thats 6 to 12 months, jus cant afford it. any where i can get funds to help out, iv never smoked in my life thanks

  7. PB

    5 months ago

    Dear Cheryl,

    Thanks for your comment and question. We’re not associated with or familiar with any other stem cell clinics. We recommend talking with your doctor about stem cell clinics in your local area that he or she may know about and would be able to recommend to you. We hope this is helpful for you, and we wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Cheryl Meyers

    5 months ago

    Is stem cell treatment available in Australia ??? I’ve got stage 4 COPD !!

  9. PB

    5 months ago

    Dear Elise,

    Thanks for your questions. While we have clinics nationwide, the nearest Lung Institute to Panama City, Florida is at our Tampa, Florida location. Unfortunately, at this time insurance companies and Medicare don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by Medicare and insurance companies in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. Treatment occurs over a three day period. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about stem cell treatment, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  10. Elise Carow

    5 months ago

    I am in stage 4. I live in Panama City, Fl. Where is the nearest stem cell treatment center to me? How many treatments are needed? Does Medicare/Blue Cross cover it?

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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