Aim: To analyze the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) related symptoms in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) and to find out the relationship between diabetic neuropathy and the prevalence of GERD symptoms.
Methods: In this prospective questionnaire study, 150 consecutive type 2 diabetic patients attending the endocrine clinic were enrolled. A junior physician helped the patients to understand the questions. Patients were asked about the presence of five most frequent symptoms of GERD that included heartburn (at least 1/wk), regurgitation, chest pain, hoarseness of voice and chronic cough. Patients with past medical history of angina, COPD, asthma, cough due to ACEI or preexisting GERD prior to onset of diabetes and apparent psychiatric disorders were excluded from the survey. We further divided the patients into two groups based on presence or absence of peripheral neuropathy. Out of 150 patients, 46 had neuropathy, whereas 104 patients did not have neuropathy. Data are expressed as mean +/- SD, and number of patients in each category and percentage of total patients in that group. Normal distributions between groups were compared with Student t test and the prevalence rates between groups were compared with Chi-square tests for significance.
Results: The average duration of diabetes were 12 +/- 9.2 years and the average HbA1c level of this group was 7.7% +/- 2.0%. The mean weight and BMI were 198 +/- 54 lbs. and 32 +/- 7.2 kg/m2. Forty percent (61/150) patients reported having at least one of the symptoms of GERD and thirty percent (45/150) reported having heartburn at least once a week. The prevalence of GERD symptoms is higher in patients with neuropathy than patients without neuropathy (58.7% vs 32.7%, P < 0.01). The prevalence of heartburn, chest pain and chronic cough are also higher in patients with neuropathy than in patients without neuropathy (43.5% vs 24%; 10.9% vs 4.8% and 17.8% vs 6.7% respectively, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The prevalence of GERD symptoms in type 2 DM is higher than in the general population. Our data suggest that DM neuropathy may be an important associated factor for developing GERD symptoms.