Improving Dyspnea in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis


Mary Beth Scholand, MD, outlines the best treatment practices for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) to date and therapies worth investigating in the future.

Almost universally present in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), shortness of breath (dyspnea), can pose a major challenge for individuals battling the rare pulmonary disease.

However, according to Mary Beth Scholand, MD, director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Program at the University of Utah School of Medicine, specific treatments can help improve dyspnea in patients with IPF.

In her exclusive interview with MD Magazine® at the 2018 CHEST Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, Scholand outlined the best treatment practices for IPF to date and therapies worth investigating in the future. Regarding how to measure the therapies, Scholand also delved into the methodology that should be considered.

MD Mag: How can dyspnea be improved in patients with IPF?

Scholand: Treating dyspnea in IPF can be difficult. In all the modalities that we use, pulmonary rehabilitation has consistently shown to have a positive impact on patients with IPF.

Patients that enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation programs have many improvements, such as quality of life and sense of self autonomy. In particular, they report better dyspnea scores. Pulmonary rehabilitation is the 1 consistent therapy that we use that can improve patients’ dyspnea in IPF.

Other therapies that are still in questions include oxygen. Most patients with IPF—as their disease progresses—develop enough hypoxia to require oxygen.

The studies we have vary on that benefit of the oxygen. However, the most recent studies that we have in 2017 and 2018 tend to lean in favoring an improvement in dyspnea with oxygen. I think this is an area that is ripe for research, and we will see additional studies coming out.

There’s some methodology that is important when we think about oxygen and dyspnea. Whether or not we measure the improvement in dyspnea with patients at their peak exercise or during normal submaximal exercise is another area that is ripe for further research.

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