October 18, 2017
Life Expectancy can be limited by Cystic Fibrosis – a genetic condition that affects the lungs, liver, pancreas and digestive system. It is caused by a recessive gene that is inherited from both parents. Life expectancy tends to be around 40 years currently for those with the condition.
Cystic Fibrosis is most common in people with North European ancestry, and least common in people with Asian ancestry. Around 1 in 2500 people born in the UK have Cystic Fibrosis. It is the most common life-limiting recessive disease among those with European heritage.
Symptoms of CF include frequent chest infections, salt loss e.g. through skin, shortness of breath, jaundice, bowel problems, diabetes, malnutrition which in turn causes poor growth, sinusitis, arthritis, osteoporosis, infertility in 97% of males, and fertility issues in 20% of females.
There is no cure for CF, but there are various treatments designed to manage the disease and its symptoms. Antibiotics are used to treat chest infections, with chest physio to clear mucus build up in the lungs. BiPAP machines are sometimes used at night to improve breathing during sleep. There are aerosol medications which are inhaled, and a medicine called Ivacaftor is the only medication that treats the cause rather than symptoms. When the lungs have deteriorated considerably, lung transplantation may be considered.
New treatments are being developed all the time, meaning an improved outlook for those with CF as time goes on. Since the 1980s, life expectancy for those with CF has risen by around 15 years on average, and as time goes on this is set to improve further.