Current Geriatrics Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 174–180 | Cite as

Diffuse Parenchymal Lung Diseases in the Elderly

  • Sinead M. Walsh
  • Anthony W. O’ReganEmail author
Pulmonology and Respiratory Care (D Breen, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Pulmonology and Respiratory Care


Purpose of Review

Diffuse parenchymal lung diseases comprise a heterogeneous group of disorders with varying clinical, physiologic, radiographic and pathologic presentations. Age of onset varies considerably. Interstitial lung abnormalities, and in particular, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), occur much more commonly in older persons. In recent years, advances have been made in understanding IPF pathogenesis and changes have occurred in relation to how IPF is managed.

Recent Findings

The cause of IPF remains unclear. It is thought that a non-specific injury in susceptible individuals triggers a progressive fibrotic response. Genetic susceptibility is increasingly recognised. Multidisciplinary team input is essential for making a diagnosis. Although, originally thought to be an inflammatory process, it has been shown that anti-inflammatory therapies may, in fact, be harmful to the patient. Two anti-fibrotic therapies (pirfenidone and nintedanib) are now available. There is a better recognition of prognosis and improved symptom control and management of end of life issues.


As life expectancy increases, further studies are necessary to assess the impact and natural history of interstitial lung diseases in the elderly.


Idiopathic Fibrosis Multidisciplinary input Anti-fibrotic therapy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Sinead Walsh and Anthony O’Regan declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Respiratory MedicineGalway University HospitalGalwayIreland
  2. 2.School of MedicineNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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