UCLA researchers find common gastrointestinal condition keeps patients up at night

05/16/05

Survey finds approximately half of people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have problems sleeping

Los Angeles, May 16, 2005 — A multinational survey of almost 2,000 people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) found that approximately half have trouble sleeping, which affects their work productivity and leisure activities. The results were presented today by UCLA researchers at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW®) in Chicago, IL.1

The survey of GERD sufferers in Europe and the U.S. showed GERD reduced work productivity by 15 percent and impaired leisure activities by 22 percent in people with GERD-related sleep disturbance.1

Approximately 61 million patients in the United States are struggling to control the symptoms of GERD.2 About 75 to 80 percent of GERD patients say their symptoms occur at night.3

"The results of the study suggest that nearly half of all people who suffer from GERD experience sleep problems, which can impact their work and personal lives. GERD also can be related to other health conditions, including depression and anxiety," said Harley Liker, M.D. Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Up to 20 percent of adults report that they have symptoms of GERD at least once a week.4 Even among those who do not experience symptoms, GERD can still impact their sleep.

Dr. Liker noted that another study that he co-authored — also presented at DDW® — showed that symptoms were more likely to improve when GERD was formally diagnosed by a physician and a proton pump inhibitor, which reduces stomach acid, was prescribed.

"Sleep problems impact all aspects of daily life including a person's mood and behavior as well as performance," noted Richard L. Gelula, Chief Executive Officer of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). "Awakenings from sleep due to acid reflux may result in significant sleep complaints and daytime consequences. These consequences may result in safety issues at home, at work, and on the road."

"NSF's recent Sleep in America poll shows that sleep problems can cause a bed partner to lose sleep. Relationships, particularly intimate relationships, often suffer," Gelula added.

Burning Desires Survey
The survey questioned 1306 people with GERD in Europe (Germany, France, UK) and 602 in the US. Nearly half were undiagnosed. It addressed the disease, lifestyle and choice of treatment through face-to-face interviews and a 100-item questionnaire.1

Participants with GERD were identified from a random telephone screening of more than 200,000 households. Out of the 1908 participants, 984 were formally diagnosed by a physician with GERD, acid reflux, or heartburn and had received prescription medication for the condition at some time and 924 were undiagnosed — had heartburn/acid reflux more than two times in the week prior to being surveyed, but had not consulted with a doctor.1

The survey showed that among the 1523 participants who reported experiencing symptoms in the previous seven days, 55 percent of patients diagnosed with GERD and 45 percent of undiagnosed patients reported being awakened by GERD symptoms.1

Among participants who did not experience problems sleeping, GERD symptoms were responsible for 14 percent impairment in non-work activities. Productivity declined by 10 percent among working participants (n=1111). 1 Further results from the survey will be announced throughout 2005.

The study was funded by AstraZeneca. Dr. Liker serves on a global advisory board for the company.

About GERD
Gastroesoghageal reflux disease (GERD) is the regular rising backward flow (reflux) of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. If the acid backs up as far as the throat and voice box, then the sleeper may wake up coughing and choking. If the acid only backs up as far as the esophagus, then the most common symptom is heartburn.5

The symptoms most likely to wake them include persistent cough, pain, feeling of a heart attack, lower stomach pain, burning sensation in the chest, heartburn, stomach upset, and nausea. However, some GERD sufferers may not experience any symptoms at all.5

GERD is a recurrent and chronic disease that does not resolve itself. There are several methods of treatment including behavior modification, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, surgery, or a combination of methods. OTC medications may provide temporary relief but will not prevent symptoms from recurring. In addition, lifestyle changes that can minimize GERD symptoms include avoiding fatty foods, caffeine, onions, chocolate and alcohol. Losing weight may also help alleviate GERD symptoms.5

About Digestive Disease Week®
Digestive Disease Week® (DDW®) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW® takes place May 14-19, 2005 in Chicago. The meeting showcases approximately 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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