Gabriel Izbicki discusses Pulmonary Fibrosis

Prof. Gabriel Izbicki , the Director of the Pulmonology Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center wrote an article about treatment options for Pulmonary Fibrosis and the importance of offering these treatments as part of the Health Basket. 

Fibrotic pulmonary diseases are characterized by scarred areas in the lungs that do not function properly. These areas lesson the lungs’ ability to carry oxygen into the blood vessels and remove carbon dioxide. 

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), or “pulmonary fibrosis” is one of the more serious fibrotic diseases. The symptoms are very common and include shortness of breath when exerting oneself or a dry cough. Another symptom is “crackles” which sounds a lot like velcro pulled apart. If a doctor recognizes these crackles accompanied by a cough or shortness of breath, the patient should undergo a lung X-ray. If the x-ray is concerning, the patient will probably need a thin section CT as well as a bronchoscopy to be able to perform a biopsy of the lung. Typically the diagnosis and treatment plan is made by a multidisciplinary team including: pulmonologists, radiologists and surgeons.

Cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, was once used to treat Pulmonary Fibrosis. Today it is deemed harmful. Roughly three years ago two new drugs appeared to slow the relapse of IPF with mild side effects (nausea, diarrhea,…) Both these drugs are included in the Health Basket. However, pulmonary rehabilitation, combined with physical therapy which has proven to be highly effective for IPF patients- At this time, they are not included it in the Health Basket.

Prof. Izbicki shared, ” IPF can behave differently in every patient, some will relapse rapidly while others will live with the disease for a long time without symptoms and relapse overnight, but without proper treatment, the chances of survival for IPF patients are poor and mortality rates are high. The new treatments can significantly prolong their lives… one of our important tasks is to increase awareness to the disease both in the general population and among family practitioners, who can identify the symptoms and thereby enable earlier diagnosis…At the same time, we must do everything in our power to remove the existing limitations in the Health Basket, both on the drugs and on the pulmonary rehabilitation.”

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