Gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms are common in the community, but there has been no definitive systematic review and meta-analysis of data from all studies to estimate their global prevalence, or potential risk factors for them.
Professor Alex Ford and colleagues from the United Kingdom searched Medline, Embase and Embase Classic to identify population-based studies that reported the prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms in adults.
Gastro-esophageal reflux was defined using symptom-based criteria or questionnaires.
The prevalence was extracted for all studies, and according to the criteria used to define it.
Of the 14,132 citations evaluated, 102 reported the prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms in 108 separate study populations, containing 460,984 subjects.
|The pooled prevalence of GERD was 13%
The doctors found that prevalence varied according to country and criteria used to define gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms.
When only studies using a weekly frequency of heart burn or regurgitation to define presence were considered, pooled prevalence was 13%.
Prevalence was higher in subjects ≥50 years, smokers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug/aspirin users and obese individuals.
Dr Ford's team concluded, "The prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux symptoms varied strikingly among countries, even when similar definitions were used to define their presence."
"Prevalence was significantly higher in subjects ≥50 years, smokers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug users and obese individuals, although these associations were modest."