Background: Twenty-five million adults experience heartburn daily. To target individuals for prevention programs, characteristics of persons with heartburn and the associated causes of this condition must first be identified.
Methods: We conducted a population-based telephone survey of 2000 individuals with heartburn to describe the cause of the disease, knowledge of risk factors, and prevention strategies.
Results: Lifestyle and work habits, and certain food and beverage consumption, were associated with heartburn. Women reported the onset of heartburn about 5 years later than men. Survey respondents were unaware of the risk factors for heartburn, and sex-dependent differences in knowledge were apparent. Logistic regression modeling identified increasing age, female sex, higher level of education, and frequent vs infrequent heartburn as significant (P<.02) predictors of whether patients told a physician about their heartburn symptoms. Increasing age, higher body mass index, and reduced level of education were significant (P<.02) predictors of frequent vs infrequent heartburn in this study population.
Conclusion: The findings of this study provide a framework for the development of a heartburn prevention program based on lifestyle modification.