The team explored the racial differences in the frequency of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and its complications.
The findings of the study were published in the October issue of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
A total of 2477 consecutive patients, who had endoscopic examinations at a general endoscopy unit of an academic hospital, were enrolled in the trial.
Their endoscopy reports and medical records were reviewed for data on race and complications of GERD.
Of the individuals, 2174 were white, 249 were black, 21 were West Asian, and 33 were East Asian.
In addition, 129 outpatients attending general medical clinics in the same hospital and in an Asian community health center in Boston, Massachusetts, were prospectively interviewed. They were questioned on race and GERD symptoms.
West Asians: 5%
East Asians: 0%
| Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics |
One or more GERD complications (peptic esophageal ulcer, stricture, or Barrett's esophagus) were observed in 12% of white patients, 3% of black patients, 5% of West Asian patients, and 0% of East Asian patients seen at the general endoscopy unit.
The team discovered that 35% of white, 46% of blacks, and 3% of East Asian patients interviewed claimed that they had heartburn.
However, the term "heartburn" was understood by only 35%, 54%, and 13% of white, blacks, and East Asians, respectively.
Dr S. J. Spechler, of the Dallas VA Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, said on behalf of fellow authors, "Asian patients in Boston infrequently complain of heartburn, whereas it is commonly reported by both white and black patients.
"However, many individuals do not understand the meaning of the term heartburn. Therefore physicians should be cautious when using the term during patient interviews."
"Complicated GERD appears to be predominately a disorder of whites," it was concluded.