Background and aims: This study estimated the prevalence and clinical spectrum of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in Asan-si, Korea, as the prevalence is believed to be lower than in Western countries.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey, using a reliable and valid questionnaire, was performed on randomly selected 2,240 Asan-si residents aged between 18 and 69 yr. All respondents were interviewed at their homes or offices by a team of interviewers.
Results: Of the 1,902 eligible subjects, 1,417 (78.4%: male 762; female 655) were surveyed. The prevalence of heartburn occurring at least once a month, at least once a week, and at least twice a week was 4.71% (95% confidence interval (CI), 3.6-5.8), 2.0% (95% CI, 1.2-2.7), and 1.3% (95% CI, 0.7-1.9), respectively. The corresponding figures for acid regurgitation were 4.4% (95% CI, 3.3-5.5) and 2.0% (95% CI, 1.3-2.8), respectively. The prevalence of GERD, defined as heartburn and/or acid regurgitation experienced at least weekly, was 3.5% (95% CI, 2.6-4.5). No significant difference was detected between sexes. The prevalence of heartburn was associated with increasing age (p < 0.001). Nineteen percent of our population reported at least one of the atypical symptoms, for instance, chest pain, dysphagia, globus sensation, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, or hoarseness. The frequency of frequent GERD among subjects reporting any of the atypical symptoms was 12.6%, which was higher than that of the subjects without atypical symptoms. Patients with typical reflux symptoms were more common among those with atypical symptoms, compared to those without such symptoms (p < 0.001). Using a logistic regression model after adjusting for age and sex, typical reflux symptoms were associated with chest pain (odds ratio (OR), 9.3; 95% CI, 5.9-14.7), dysphagia (OR, 6.4; 95% CI, 2.8-14.7), globus sensation (OR, 3.9; 95% CI, 1.5-9.7), hoarseness (OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.4-13.1), asthma (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4-4.8), and bronchitis (OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.6-2.3).
Conclusion: The prevalence of GERD was 3.5% in this Korean population. Heartburn and acid regurgitation were significantly associated with chest pain, dysphagia, globus sensation, hoarseness, and asthma.