Stage IV (Very Severe) COPD

Although this stage of COPD is categorized by severe lung damage, medical treatment can still help you manage its symptoms. People in Stage IV experience more severe symptoms, frequent flare-ups and difficulty breathing even without physical activity.

Some individuals who have Stage IV COPD develop respiratory failure. This occurs when your blood does not get enough oxygen from the lungs, the lungs don’t remove enough carbon dioxide from the blood, or both. Most people with Stage IV COPD have less than 30 percent of expected lung function.

In some cases in which the disease does not respond to other treatments, surgery may improve quality of life for those with late-stage COPD, including these procedures:

  • Bullectomy, which is the removal of tiny air sacs that can make it difficult to breathe
  • Lung volume reduction, which can improve breathing for those with healthy lung tissue and a strong heart who have quit smoking
  • Lung transplant for individuals who are otherwise healthy

Individuals with end-stage COPD may want to talk with their doctors about palliative care. Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not only an option for those at the end of life. With this type of treatment, your team of doctors, nurses and social workers can help you set treatment goals and apply yourself towards them, cope with anxiety and fear, and work with your family members and caregivers.