Background & aims: Helicobacter pylori (Hp) is strongly correlated with peptic ulcer and is a risk factor for gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to assess whether screening and eradication of Hp in a general population would reduce the prevalence of dyspepsia and the incidence of peptic ulcer and thus save health care resources and improve quality of life.
Methods: Twenty thousand individuals aged 40 to 65 years were randomized to screening and eradication for Hp or to the control group. Hp status was assessed by a whole blood Hp test, a positive result confirmed by a (13)C-urea breath test. Hp-positive individuals were offered Hp eradication therapy. The prevalence of dyspepsia and the quality of life were assessed through a mailed questionnaire. Information on the use of endoscopies and the use of prescription medication was obtained from registers.
Results: The response rate was 62.6%. The prevalence of Hp was 17.5%. The Hp eradication rate was 95%. In the intervention group, the prevalence of dyspepsia decreased from 24.3% at inclusion to 20.5% at 1-year follow-up. The reduction was similar in Hp-negative and Hp-positive persons. In the control group, dyspepsia increased from 20.3% to 21.5%. Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms improved slightly in Hp-eradicated participants. Except for a decreased consultation rate for dyspepsia, there were no visible savings in health care.
Conclusions: Dyspepsia was modestly reduced after the screening and treatment procedure, and the result was not sufficiently extensive to have an effect on the use of health care or to improve quality of life.