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Two recent studies presented at the 66th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Las Vegas underscored the need to control the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Nimish Vakil, MD, and co-workers at the Sinai Samaritan Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Milwaukee studied the impact of GERD on interrupted sleep patterns in 101 patients. "GERD is prevalent in patients with obstructive sleep apnea — the condition where people stop breathing for short periods when they’re asleep. We wondered whether untreated GERD worsens sleep by causing spontaneous arousals during sleep," said Vakil. "We found that GERD patients on acid-suppressive therapy had half as many spontaneous arousals per hour as did untreated GERD patients. To improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness, we recommend treating GERD patients with acid suppressive therapy, such as proton pump inhibitors."
In another study, Joshua Offman, MD, MSHS of Cedars-Sinai Health System and Zynx Health Inc., in Los Angeles and colleagues interviewed 1,025 workers to assess the impact of chronic heartburn on absenteeism and worker productivity. They found a significant relationship between reduced quality of life from GERD symptoms and reduced worker productivity.
The researchers interviewed participants to determine quality of life, absenteeism, and worker productivity. The analyses revealed that those with a low quality of life had the greatest decline in worker productivity. Overall, 90% of the participants reporting a low quality of life reported reduced productivity. On the other hand, only 22% of the participants reporting a high quality of life experienced reduced productivity.
"An important implication of this study relates to the importance of alleviating the symptoms of GERD to improve quality of life, reduce absenteeism, and enhance worker productivity," said Offman. "The overall costs to employers may be reduced by effectively managing patients with chronic heartburn."