Background and aims: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is considered to be a common and chronic gastrointestinal disorder. The prevalence of GERD is believed to be less in Asia than in Western countries. Population-based data on GERD are lacking from India. The present study aimed at determining the prevalence of GERD symptoms in an adult Indian community and the potential risk factors associated with GERD.
Methods: The study population consisted of all the employees of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. An interview-based observational study was done on the basis of an earlier validated questionnaire. The subjects were asked about the frequency and severity of heartburn and/or regurgitation experienced by them in the previous year. These symptoms were then scored from 0 to 18. Subjects with a score of at least 4 were considered to have symptomatic GERD. Association of GERD with factors like age, sex, BMI, Kuppuswamy social class index, smoking, alcohol, NSAID use, and comorbid illness was analyzed.
Results: A total of 4079 employees were interviewed in person on a 29-item questionnaire from June 2003 to January 2005. Of the 4039 eligible subjects, 653 (16.2%) had GERD; 3.6% had heartburn on daily basis and 5.9% on a weekly basis. The corresponding prevalences for regurgitation were 3.3% and 5.0%, respectively. One hundred and eight of 4039 (2.7%) had severe GERD symptoms. Higher BMI (OR=1.90, 95% CI: 1.4-2.6 for BMI ≥25), current smoking (OR=1.48, 95% CI: 1.19-1.83), asthma (OR=3.13, CI: 2.06-4.76) and hypertension (OR=1.71, 95% CI: 1.16-2.50) were associated with the presence of GERD symptoms.
Conclusions: Prevalence of GERD in an urban adult population from northern India is 16.2% which is similar to other industrialized countries. Higher body mass index, current smoking, and presence of asthma or hypertension predisposes to GERD in our population.