Is there a relationship between interstitial lung disease and frailty?

A nurse discusses the Frailty Index with an older woman

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is an umbrella term used for a large group of diseases that cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs. This scarring results in difficulties breathing and getting oxygen into the bloodstream.

A study led by Dr. Christopher Ryerson, Respirologist and Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Department Head, Respirology, at St Paul’s Hospital, is investigating whether there is a relationship between ILD and a higher incidence of frailty. Dr. Alyson Wong, Respirologist and Clinical Instructor at UBC, will co-lead the study and explore the economic impact of frailty in ILD.

Participants will be recruited from ILD clinics at St. Paul's and Vancouver General Hospital over 3 years. Measures of frailty will be taken every 6 months using the Frailty Index, which is based on a multidimensional scale evaluating age-related deficits.

In patients with fibrotic ILD, the objectives of the study are to: determine the prevalence and rate of progression of frailty; to determine whether frailty predicts progressive functional decline; to determine whether frailty impacts tolerability of the medication pirfenidone in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a type of ILD); and to determine the impact of frailty on health services use and healthcare costs in a Canadian population.

The team hypothesizes that: patients with fibrotic ILD will have a greater prevalence of frailty; frailty progresses more rapidly in patients with fibrotic ILD; a decline in 6-minute walk distance will be greater in patients with more severe baseline frailty; and patients who discontinue pirfenidone due to poor tolerability will have greater frailty.

“It is hoped that the information collected on the progression of interstitial lung disease can help further our understanding of the disease and its association with frailty and costs, and that downstream this research will improve patient care,” says Professor Ryerson.

PopData will be linking data from the CAnadian REgistry for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CARE-PF, a prospective interstitial lung disease database), which is under Dr. Ryerson’s custodianship, with the following data sets from the BC Ministry of Health:

  • Home and Community Care
  • Discharge Abstracts Database (Hospital Separations)
  • MSP
  • PharmaNet
  • Vital Stats Deaths
  • Consolidation file