- Keith Chegwin has died aged 60 surrounded by family
- The TV star had been battling a lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Symptoms of the condition include shortness of breath and a persistent dry cough
- It is thought to be caused by viruses, smoking or breathing in dust
Keith Chegwin has died after a battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), his family announced today.
The television presenter was 60 when he died after suffering with the progressive lung condition. The well-loved British TV star was surrounded by his wife and children.
What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?
The term ‘idiopathic’ means the cause is unknown, while ‘pulmonary fibrosis’ refers to the range of conditions that can cause scar tissue to build up in the lungs.
This causes the lungs to become stiffer, so they are less able to inflate and take in oxygen, according to the British Lung Foundation. This in turn makes breathing less efficient.
The latest research has shown that 6,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
Men are more susceptible to IPF, and 85 per cent of people diagnosed are over the age of 70 years. It is very rare for those below the age of 50 years to develop it.
Common signs of the condition include shortness of breath, a persistent dry cough, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen fingertips.
While it is unclear exactly what causes the condition, IPF has been linked to a number of risk factors.
How do you get idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?
The NHS state that viral infections and exposure to certain types of dust, such as metal or wood dust, can mean you are more likely to suffer.
Research has linked IPF to two particular viruses – the Epstein Barr virus which causes glandular fever, and the herpes virus.
Breathing in dust given off by textiles, stone, cattle or other farmimg could lead to the condition.
Additionally, being a smoker and suffering from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) also increases your risk. GORD is a common condition, where acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus.
Around one in 20 sufferers have another family member with the condition.
Symptoms gradually worsen over time, although the rate at which this happens varies from person to person.
These are the key symptoms of the condition, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What are the symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- A dry cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Aching muscles and joints
- Widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers or toes (clubbing)
It is important to see your GP if you have been having problems breathing, say the NHS.
They warn if you’ve been struggling with shortness of breath for a while, or have had a cough for more than three weeks, you should seek medical advice.
Your GP will then refer you for a picture of tests, including blood tests and a chest x-ray.
The latest figures state that one in five people will survive for more than five years, however it is hoped the availability of specific new treatments like pirfenidone and nintedanib will improve on this.
Indeed, thanks to advances in medicine, it is now possible to slow the rate at which the condition progresses.
The NHS note that some people respond well to treatment and can live symptom free for many years.
However, other people don’t respond so well and symptoms can quickly worsen.
Sufferers can also be at risk of other problems, including chest infections, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
While no one knows how the disease will progress, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help advise the American Lung Association.
These include eating small frequent meals, avoiding second-hand smoke and getting the flu jab.