Background: We have previously demonstrated a negative relationship between the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Aim: To study the effects of H. pylori infection on the severity of GERD.
Methods: Ethnic Chinese patients with frequent heartburn and/or endoscopic oesophagitis were studied. Endoscopic examination was performed to assess the severity of oesophagitis (modified Savary-Miller grading) and the presence of hiatus hernia. Biopsies were taken for rapid urease testing and confirmation of Barrett's oesophagus. Risk factors which may affect the severity of oesophagitis (age, sex, smoking, drinking, diabetes mellitus, hiatus hernia, H. pylori status and body mass index) were evaluated by a multiple regression model. The cagA status of H. pylori infected GERD and age-and-sex matched controls were determined by Western blot. Age-and-sex matched non-reflux patients were recruited as controls for comparison.
Results: Two hundred and twenty-five patients with GERD were studied, of whom 77 (34%) were infected with H. pylori. Oesophagitis and Barrett's oesophagus were found in 140 patients (62%) and six patients (3%), respectively. H. pylori infected patients had significantly less severe oesophagitis compared to the uninfected group (P=0.022). All patients with Barrett's oesophagus were uninfected. Factors that predicted severe oesophagitis included age over 60 years (P < 0.001) and hiatus hernia (P < 0.001). H. pylori infection was the only factor that showed a negative correlation with severe oesophagitis (P=0.011). The prevalence of the cagA positive strain in endoscopy-negative GERD, erosive oesophagitis and control subjects was 70, 76 and 78%, respectively (P=0.75).
Conclusions: H. pylori infection is associated with milder GERD.