Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and country music artist Joe Nichols are launching a national education campaign called Breathless aimed at raising awareness for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), its symptoms, and the importance of an early diagnosis and treatment.
IPF is a chronic interstitial lung disease affecting the tissue that supports the alveoli in the lungs. It is characterized by inflammation and accumulation of scar tissue (fibrosis), leading to progressive loss of elasticity, failure of proper lung activity, and insufficient oxygen to the blood and organs. The disease is of unknown origin, with no cure. IPF clinical course and progression is varies among patients, and the trajectory and rate of decline are difficult to predict at diagnosis.
Diagnosing IPF is often difficult because several of its symptoms, such as breathlessness, cough, and fatigue, are similar to other more common diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Early diagnosis is very important for patients, as the available therapies, such as supplemental oxygen, cough management, pulmonary rehabilitation, and recent FDA-approved drugs, can make a difference in the quality of life and health of people living with IPF.
The “Breathless: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at IPF” campaign will include educational content, such as videos and social media material to inform people about IPF and encourage those who suspect they might have the condition to get diagnosed as soon as possible. Organizers also encourage those with IPF to share their stories on the website, in Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube to help those in need.
These stories include Joe Nichols’ father, who suffered for three years with symptoms before being diagnosed. He died at age 46 from IPF-related complications.
“Oftentimes I look back on the last two decades with bittersweet feelings because just when my music career was taking off, my father’s health was declining,” said the artist in a press release. “The breathlessness he experienced affected him to the point where he couldn’t walk across the room without becoming short of breath. Sadly, it took three years before my father was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and he eventually lost his fight at a young age. It’s important for me to share my story to help others, because I don’t want people to go through the physical and emotional difficulties my family did during those years before he was eventually diagnosed.”