Sleep as a New Target for Improving Outcomes in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common type of interstitial pneumonia but remains a disease with a poor outcome. Two drugs, pirfenidone and nintedanib, have shown promising results at stalling disease progression; however, the interplay of sleep disruption or sleep disorders overall and in relation to medication effectiveness remains understudied. In the past, there was limited interest in the role of sleep in patients with IPF. Treating physicians tended to address only the daily disabling symptoms while disregarding the possible significant role of sleep alterations or coexisting sleep disorders. During the past few years, there has been more research related to sleep disturbances in patients with IPF and their possible role in sleep and overall life quality, disease progression, and outcome. In summary, sleep in patients with IPF is significantly impaired, with alterations in sleep architecture, changes in sleep breathing pattern, and decreases in oxygen saturation mainly during vulnerable rapid eye movement sleep. There also is evidence that OSA has an increased prevalence in these patients, playing an important role in the already worse sleep quality related to the disease itself. The focus of this review is not only to present current data related to sleep in patients with IPF but also to point out that therapy for sleep problems and OSA is likely to improve sleep and life quality as well as disease outcome. The main priority remains to increase awareness among treating physicians about early diagnosis of OSA in patients with IPF and to emphasize the need for intense future research, especially on the role of intermittent hypoxia superimposed on chronic hypoxia during sleep in patients with IPF.

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