COPD may trigger acid reflux problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Stomach acid reflux or heartburn may be a particular problem for people with breathing problems such as emphysema or bronchitis, known generally as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, researchers report.

However, the reverse doesn’t seem to be the case, according to a study investigating the relationship between the two conditions.

For their investigation, Dr. Luis A. Garcia Rodriguez, at the Spanish Center for Pharmacoepidemiological Research in Madrid, and his associates evaluated data from the UK General Practice Research Database. Their findings are reported in the medical journal Chest.

One analysis included patients initially free of chronic heartburn or GERD (for gastroesophageal reflux disease); 1628 of them had COPD and 14,243 did not. During follow-up over five years, the incidence of GERD was 46 percent higher among those with COPD than among the patients without COPD.

On the other hand, COPD did not occur any more frequently among 4391 patients with GERD and 5118 individuals without

GERD.

These results indicate that “COPD appears to predispose patients to GERD rather than vice versa,” Rodriguez and colleagues conclude.

They urge doctors to keep in mind that “COPD patients may also be struggling with the symptoms of GERD,” and that treatment could improve their quality of life. They suggest using questionnaires to diagnose GERD in patients with COPD “to ensure that they are managed appropriately.”

SOURCE: Chest, December 2008.

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