Results from previous cross-sectional studies indicate that gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms have a prevalence of 10-20% in Western countries and are associated with obesity, smoking, esophagitis, chest pain and respiratory disease.
A. Ruigómez, L. García Rodríguez, M.Wallander, S. Johansson, H. Graffner and J. Dent formed a group of researchers from Spain, Sweden and Australia that investigated the natural history of GERD presenting in primary care in the UK.
The research group identified patients with a first diagnosis of GERD during 1996 from the UK General Practice Research Database and compared them with age- and sex-matched controls.
|GERD is associated with potentially serious complications and extra-esophageal diseases|
|Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics|
The group investigated the incidence of GERD, along with potential risk factors and co-morbidities, and relative risk for subsequent esophageal complications and mortality.
The researchers found that the incidence of a GERD diagnosis was 4.5 per 1000 person-years.
The group also found that prior use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, smoking, excess body weight and gastrointestinal and cardiac conditions were associated with an increased risk of GERD diagnosis.
Subjects with GERD had an increased risk of respiratory problems, chest pain and angina in the year after diagnosis, and had a relative risk of 11.5 of being diagnosed with an esophageal complication.
There was an increase in mortality in the GERD cohort only in the year following the diagnosis.
Commenting on their findings, Dr Graffner said, "Gastro-esophageal reflux disease is a disease associated with a range of potentially serious esophageal complications and extra-esophageal diseases".