Introduction: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a severe chronic lung disease. Pulmonary rehabilitation could improve the quality of life of patients with this condition.
Methods: We prospectively evaluated the impact of an 8 week home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program over 10 months in stable patients suffering from IPF. Exercise capacity, pulmonary function, dyspnea and quality of life were analyzed before and after the rehabilitation program.
Results: 17 patients were included and 13 completed the study. Mean FVC was 2.15+/-0.79 L and mean DLCO was 7.81+/-3.99 ml/min/mmHg. Six patients were treated with low dose oral steroids ($20 mg/day of prednisone) with or without immunosuppressive treatments; 6 were taking part in therapeutic trials. Mean endurance time (7.4+/-9.1 min vs 14.1+/-12.1 min; p<0,01), number of beats per minute on a stepper (322+/-97 vs 456+/-163; p=0.026), 6 min walking distance to heart rate ratio (11+/-6 vs 17+/-12; p=0.006), exercise dyspnea (p=0.026), sensation of physical limitation at the SF-36 (25%+/-26 vs 49%+/-38; p=0.047) and 4 out of 7 visual analog scales were significantly improved after rehabilitation. In contrast, no significant difference was observed in resting pulmonary function or in other items of quality of life questionnaires
Conclusion: A home-based program of pulmonary rehabilitation is feasible in IPF patients. It significantly improves endurance parameters and physical limitation in this patient group without changing pulmonary function.