Thorax 66:462-467 doi:10.1136/thx.2010.148031
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Original article

The rising incidence of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in the UK

Press Release
  1. R B Hubbard1
  1. 1Nottingham Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, Clinical Sciences Building, Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre, NIHR Biomedical Research Unit, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vidya Navaratnam, Nottingham Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, Clinical Sciences Building, Nottingham City Hospital, Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK; vidya.navaratnam{at}
  • Received 29 July 2010
  • Accepted 16 December 2010
  • Published Online First 27 April 2011


Background Previous studies have shown that the incidence of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is rising in the UK and USA. Death registrations and primary care data were used to determine the current trends in IPF incidence in the UK. Because routine clinical data sets were used, the term IPF clinical syndrome (IPF-CS) is used to describe individuals in this study.

Methods Age- and stratum-specific death registration rates between 1968 and 2008 were calculated and these were applied to the 2008 population to generate annual standardised expected number of deaths. Annual mortality rate ratios were calculated using Poisson regression. Computerised primary care records were used to determine incidence rates of IPF-CS between 2000 and 2008 stratified by age, sex and geographical region, and survival rates between calendar periods were compared.

Results Annual death certificate recording of IPF-CS rose sixfold across the study period from 0.92 per 100 000 in the 1968–1972 calendar periods to 5.10 per 100 000 in the 2006–2008 calendar period, and were higher in men and the older age groups. The incidence of IPF-CS in primary care increased by 35% from 2000 to 2008, with an overall incidence rate of 7.44 per 100 000 person-years (95% CI 7.12 to 7.77). Incidence was higher in men, the older population and in Northwest England.

Conclusions The incidence of IPF-CS in primary care and registered deaths from this cause in the UK continues to rise in the 21st century. The current findings suggest that there are >5000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.


  • Funding VN is funded by a research grant from the Medical Research Council. RBH is funded by the GSK/BLF chair of Epidemiological Respiratory Research. JW and KMF are funded by an NIHR Clinician Scientist Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Nottingham Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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