According to Chipley Bugle, the University of Florida Health Center is joining the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Care Center Network. UF joins 60 other centers in the world with high level knowledge and resources for the treatment of interstitial lung diseases like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
IPF is a lung condition characterized by hardening of the lungs, and these hardened lungs make it hard for oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Common symptoms of IPF are related to this and include shortness of breath and a dry, hackling cough that doesn’t go away. IPF most commonly affects the lungs, but since the body is so intertwined and the lungs play such a crucial role, the condition often affects many other parts of the body as well, including the stomach, hands, and feet. Treatments for IPF are aimed at slowing the progression of the disease, although the life expectancy after diagnosis is somewhere between 3-5 years. To learn more about the condition, click here.
The University of Florida Health Center is one of 15 that have just been added to the elite group of healthcare centers. UF Health has an interstitial lung disease program that covers much of the area in and around Florida. This includes southern Alabama, southern Georgia, and central and northern Florida.
Now, as part of this distinguished group, UF Health will be first in line for referrals for various interstitial lung diseases. These diseases include over 200 conditions including IPF.
Dr. Borna Mehrad, professor at UF College of Medicine, explains why this distinction means so much to the hospital.
“Patients with interstitial lung disease are often initially diagnosed as having pneumonia, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Mehrad.
“Eventually, when their symptoms do not respond to treatment, they are referred to a local pulmonary doctor. Our goal is to have those pulmonary doctors refer the patients to us as soon as possible, so they undergo the appropriate work-up to reach the correct diagnosis, are started on the right treatment and, if necessary, are evaluated for lung transplantation,” Mehrad continued.
Adding resources and experts in the area is nothing short of necessary to our healthcare system. The numbers say it all: over 40,000 people in the United States die each year from pulmonary fibrosis. Even more far reaching, over 200,000 people in the U.S. actually live with the condition. For many of these diseases, too, there is no cure.
Needless to say, the addition of new health centers with experts in the field will be greatly beneficial to many people affected by these conditions.
“The launch of our 15 new Care Center Network sites provides crucial resources for care along with an infrastructure that facilitates research toward a cure,” said chief medical officer of the foundation, Gregory P. Cosgrove, M.D.
According to the foundation, the Care Center Network “fosters a multidisciplinary approach to delivering comprehensive patient care.”
The Network also strives to promote research and development along with patient education. The Network also states that they “have experience and expertise in treating patients with fibrotic lung diseases and are dedicated to improving the lives of those living” with pulmonary fibrosis.
As with any type of medical care, it is crucial and beneficial to have medical professionals and physicians who are trained for the specific conditions a patient faces. Mehrad explained that patients often responded way better to treatment by physicians who specialize in interstitial lung disease.
“It’s really important that these patients are seen by a group of lung doctors who specialize in these diseases, take care of them all the time, read about them, think about them and write about them,” said Mehrad.