GERD = Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or Chronic Heartburn
- Occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) (muscle) malfunctions or does not close properly and stomach acid leaks back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or throat. 1, 2
- Anyone experiencing heartburn twice a week or more may have GERD. 1
- Years of exposure to stomach acids can trigger changes in the lining of the esophagus. 3, 5
- GERD can lead to more serious health problems, like esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer. 5, 6
- Patients who have GERD generally report decreased quality of life, reduced productivity, and decreased well-being. 7
- An estimated 61 million Americans, or 44% of the US adult population, have heartburn at least once a month. 7
- More than 19 million people suffer from GERD and experience symptoms of GERD at least twice a week. 8
- GERD is the third most prevalent disease in the US with the highest annual direct costs ($9.3 billion/year). 9
- 60% of heartburn sufferers do not consult their family physician regarding the condition.10
- Most effective treatment for GERD is proton pump inhibitors. 11
- 15% of patients self-treat symptoms with antacids on a weekly basis. 12
- Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on antacids and acid suppressants.7
- Most GERD sufferers are not screened for more serious disease. 7
- American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends screening men over 50 every three years if they have a history of five years or more of chronic reflux and reflux symptoms at least two times a week.
- Evaluating people with a history of GERD can help detect Barrett’s esophagus, a dangerous pre-cancerous condition; 700,000 are reported to have Barrett’s esophagus, which is twice as common in men. 3
- Evaluation consists of endoscopy either with a long plastic tube that is advanced down the throat to the esophagus or capsule endoscopy with the PillCam™ ESO, a noninvasive alternative.
- GERD can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which over time can lead to esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the US. 1, 13
- Incidence of esophageal cancer has increased five-fold in the last 30 years.
- New England Journal of Medicine 340 (11): 825-31, 1999
- The burden of selected digestive diseases in the United States. Gastroenterology. 2002; 122:1500-11
- http://www.aafp.org/x24799.xml Bandolier review. Treatment effectiveness and costs in reflux disease. July 2000:77-2. Available at: www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/band77/b77-2.html. Accessed October 2003
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Evaluating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or Chronic Heartburn: An “Unchecked” Epidemic