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New Research Could Change Clinical Practice for Cases of Unmanaged Heartburn

Study Counters Commonly Held Belief that All Patients with Persistent Heartburn Suffer from GERD

A new study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine finds that the majority of patients (66%) seen for persistent heartburn despite using PPIs have symptoms that are NOT caused by acid production as previously assumed.

A more systematic workup revealed that these troublesome cases instead have other causes that create a burning sensation in the esophagus, which mimics GERD.  This is important because, previously these patients might have been referred for an unnecessary surgery, which ultimately would not have alleviated their symptoms.

Additionally, in the group whose heartburn was positively identified as caused by acid reflux, which was about 20% of cases, surgery was superior (67% success rate) to continued medical therapy (28% success rate).


  • Dr. Stuart Spechler, lead author of the study, co-director of Baylor Scott & White Research Institute’s Center for Esophageal Research, and Chief of Gastroenterology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas



  • This study enrolled 366 patients to determine what was causing their heartburn, what the best treatment was and why a large percentage of them were still experiencing symptoms after using PPIs.
  • One in five adults in the U.S. have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with the annual costs for managing the disease estimated to exceed $12 billion.
  • The most common treatment for GERD is proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs that stop acid production in the stomach.
  • Unfortunately this therapy fails to provide symptom relief in 40% of cases. And until now, there has been very little high-quality data available on why these symptoms persist despite treatment.

Full news release and articles are attached.

Baylor Scott & White Health can provide video transmissions through its TVU broadcast platform providing 1080iHD video and audio, along with IFB capabilities, at no cost. 



Deke Jones

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