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A new campaign has been launched today to share the personal experiences of those living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).

It is unclear what causes the chronic progressive condition which causes scarring in the lungs but by the time symptoms appear, irreversible damage has occurred. It is a rare condition; approximately 1,000 Irish people are living with it. and, Despite the serious nature of the diagnosis, around 50 per cent of diagnosed patients with IPF in the EU and around 70 per cent of patients with mild disease (those with more lung function to preserve) are apparently not treated with approved IPF therapy.

Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to delaying the progress of the condition. Patients with IPF find breathing difficult and suffer symptoms such as severe breathlessness, a hacking cough, and fatigue. One way of measuring the progression and severity of the condition is by assessing a patient’s ability to walk for six minutes because, for people with IPF, every step can feel like a challenge and the fear of breathlessness can sometimes lead to immobility and disability.

The global Fight IPF campaign includes videos, with the aim giving hope to those recently diagnosed with IPF and to show that exercising while living with a serious lung condition is possible, showing that daily exercise is possible and beneficial to the overall health of those living with the condition.

Speaking about his condition and the impact exercise has had on his quality of life, patient Peter Gallagher, commented; “It was a complete shock when I was diagnosed with IPF two years ago, but I’ve tried not to let it hold me back. I take part in the 2,000-steps program and make sure to get out for a six kilometer walk twice or three times a week.

“You have to find the walks that suit you. My wife and I walk in areas of flat land with benches dotted around in case I need a break. It’s all about perspective, six kilometers once a week may not sound like a lot, but to some that’s a marathon”.

Nicola Cassidy, Director of ILFA, said: “ILFA is delighted to once again support Roche’s global Fight IPF campaign. IPF is a life changing condition and people can struggle with breathlessness, fatigue and anxiety but education and exercise can help people to manage the condition better. Exercise is an important and valuable treatment for IPF patients, and walking is the ideal exercise”.