NURSING staff have been raising awareness of a lung disease which has been described as a silent killer.

Staff at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have been raising awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), one of the many forms of lung disease.

This incurable disease affects about 8,700 new people in the UK, each year.

A person diagnosed with IPF will have a limited life expectancy, and this disease accounts for about 1 per cent of deaths in the UK.

In Worcestershire the trust, which runs Redditch's Alexandra Hospital, is in the process of building a detailed record of local patients living with IPF so that they can improve the rates of diagnosis, treatment and life expectancy in the county.

nurses have been raising awareness of this disease to help encourage patients, public and staff to check for symptoms, seek a diagnosis and start treatment.

Respiratory nurse specialist Nancy Howard said: “We treat and support patients in Worcestershire living with this disease and see the devastating effects it has on them, their friends and family.”

Diagnosis of this illness is described as difficult by the trust. People usually present with progressive breathlessness especially during physical activity, and with persistent cough.

A doctor will need to do several different tests including breathing tests and a chest X-ray, before referring to a local respiratory consultant for more detailed investigations.

This service is available at all Worcestershire hospitals as part of the outpatient services.

Treatment aims to slow the scarring and manage the symptoms so that the person feels better and has an improved quality of life.

The actual cause of IPF is unknown but researchers believe that the body creates fibrosis (scarring) in response to damage in the lung.

The initial damage might be from acid reflux in the stomach, viruses (in some studies IPF has been linked to certain viruses such as Epstein Barr, glandular fever, herpes and hepatitis C) and environmental factors such as breathing in kinds of dusts – it’s more common if you have been exposed at work to dust from wood, metal, textiles or stone or from cattle or farming.

For more information on Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis awareness, visit