RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Former Yankee great Bernie Williams is teaming up with Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim to help raise awareness of the lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Williams, a New Fairfield resident, is joining the fight against IPF with his "Breathless" campaign after losing his father to the disease in 2001.
“Whether I was in centerfield or at bat, my dad was always my biggest fan. He seemed invincible. So when he was finally diagnosed with IPF after battling symptoms like breathlessness and a debilitating cough that persisted for many months, it was devastating to me and my family,” Williams said on the Breathless website. “Sharing my dad’s story is so important because it will help others get the answers they need sooner and easier.”
IPF is a rare and serious lung disease that causes permanent scarring of the lungs, and makes it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of IPF include breathlessness during activity, a dry and persistent cough, chest discomfort, fatigue and weakness. It affects about 132,000 Americans.
The symptoms of IPF are similar to, and often confused with, other more recognizable diseases such chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or congestive heart failure. There are IPF treatments available, including supplemental oxygen, cough management and pulmonary rehabilitation, which can include special exercises or breathing strategies.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drugs specifically indicated for the treatment of IPF.