Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, in its final stage is characterized by significantly reduced quality of life due to shortness of breath, according to Healthline. Life-threatening breathing problems may occur, and pulmonary function test responses of less than 30 percent of normal values are common.
Although stage 4 COPD is referred to as end-stage COPD, many people live for years with the condition, advises Healthline. "End stage” is merely a term used to describe the disease’s clinical progression; it does not mean that it is the end of the COPD patient’s life, even in a patient with severely compromised lung capacity.
COPD is staged using the help of a machine known as a spirometer that is used to measure the functionality of the lungs and how efficiently the lungs empty during breathing, according to Healthline. Height, sex and age all play a role in staging. Stage 4 disease is the most severe stage of the disease, with extensive airflow limitations.
Improving health with stage 4 COPD requires symptom management and prevention of flares of the disease, notes Healthline. Smoking cessation is essential, as is avoiding lung irritants. Those suffering from COPD in its final stages should consider participating in pulmonary rehabilitation programs geared at improving quality of life with impaired breathing.