Primary Care in the Diagnosis and Management of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Fernando J. Martinez, MD, MS


April 03, 2023

Primary care physicians play a key role in the crucial early diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and their cooperation with pulmonary specialists is critical to ensure maximal positive outcomes for IPF patients, according to Dr Fernando Martinez, Chief of Pulmonary Critical Care at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dr Martinez recommends that primary care doctors keep IPF in mind during the differential diagnosis of patients with chronic cough or pulmonary crackles (rales), particularly if the patients are older and male. He comments that prompt referal of such patients for pulmonary imaging may help ensure an early diagnosis.

Treatment with one of two effective antifibrotic therapies can help slow disease progression, but the management of the associated side effects of these drugs is another point at which specialists and primary can work cooperatively to optimize patient care.

Multiple comorbidities are common to IPF including reflux, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea; here, too, primary care physicians are often in a better position than pulmonary specialists to manage patients effectively.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.