Interstitial Lung Disease/Pulmonary Fibrosis | American Lung Association

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Interstitial Lung Disease/Pulmonary Fibrosis

Interstitial lung disease is a group of disorders, including pulmonary fibrosis, that cause scarring of the lung. The disease eventually affects a person’s ability to breathe and get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. It can be caused by long-term exposure to dangerous materials such as asbestos. In most cases the cause is not known. Once lung scarring occurs, it usually cannot be reversed.

About 140,000 Americans have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Fewer than 50 percent of patients survive five years. While treatment may slow the worsening of the disease in some people, there is no cure.

Pulmonary fibrosis can lead to other medical problems, including collapsed lung, lung infections, blood clots in the lungs and lung cancer. As the disease gets worse, it can lead to respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. A person with pulmonary fibrosis may need supplemental oxygen to help with breathing.

The American Lung Association supports an array of investigations into the basic cellular and molecular processes that underlie interstitial lung disease. Our researchers are using a wide variety of tools to better understand the mechanisms of interstitial lung diseases, including cutting-edge genomic technology. This research will identify new targets for therapy, which will extend and improve the lives of people with pulmonary fibrosis and other types of interstitial lung disease.


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