Interstitial lung disease causes irreversible scarring of the lungs that eventually affects breathing function and oxygen intake. Dyspnoea, or shortness of breath, is a debilitating symptom affecting patients with chronic lung disease, including interstitial lung disease. For idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the most common interstitial lung disease, the average survival from time of diagnosis is only 2 to 3 years.
Dr. Jordan Guenette and his team of researchers recently published significant findings investigating the mechanisms that cause shortness of breath and strategies to relieve this symptom. They discovered that breathing in higher levels of oxygen dramatically improved the shortness of breath of lung disease patients. One patient was able to exercise on an exercise bicycle for 7 minutes breathing room air (21% oxygen) but this increased to 43 minutes when breathing in 60% oxygen.
“We were able to take those results and secure over $2.1 million to take this intervention across the country.”Dr. Jordan Guenette, HLI Associate Director and PI, and the senior author on this study.
In the same study, the team also uncovered new details regarding how the nervous system contributes to shortness of breath in lung disease. This work has launched a new clinical trial at 8 centres across Canada. By improving the capacity of lung disease patients to stay active, this research will positively impact patient quality of life.