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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Life span & stage of patients over 65?

01/18/2008

Question:

My grandad has just being diagnosed with Fibrosis and he is 70 years of age! My concern is , how do we know at what stage is he i.e. what is his lifespan considering he is over 65? Please reply urgently!!! Thanx

Answer:

The first step is to be confident of the diagnosis. The term pulmonary fibrosis is sometimes used to refer to many different diseases. "Idiopathic" pulmonary fibrosis is a very serious disease and has an average life expectancy of 3-5 years from the time of diagnosis. "Post-inflammatory" pulmonary fibrosis has a relatively long life expectancy. Pulmonary fibrosis associated with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma has an intermediate life expectancy.

Regarding the stage, we generally judge how advanced the disease is by the pulmonary function tests. The lower the values on these tests and the lower the oxygen level when patients are exerting themselves (such as during a "6-minute walk test"), the more advanced the disease. As an example, some of the criteria used by many pulmonologists to define "advanced disease" include a vital capacity of less than 50% of predicted, a diffusing capacity of less than 35% of predicted, and an oxygen saturation of less than 90% during a 6-minute walk test.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University