Gastroesophageal reflux disease: Important considerations for the older patients

World J Gastrointest Endosc. 2010 Dec 16;2(12):388-96. doi: 10.4253/wjge.v2.i12.388.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most common upper gastrointestinal disorder seen in the elderly. The worldwide incidence of GERD is increasing as the incidence of Helicobacter pylori is decreasing. Although elderly patients with GERD have fewer symptoms, their disease is more often severe. They have more esophageal and extraesophageal complications that may be potentially life threatening. Esophageal complications include erosive esophagitis, esophageal stricture, Barrett's esophagus and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Extraesophageal complications include atypical chest pain that can simulate angina pectoris; ear, nose, and throat manifestations such as globus sensation, laryngitis, and dental problems; pulmonary problems such as chronic cough, asthma, and pulmonary aspiration. A more aggressive approach may be warranted in the elderly patient, because of the higher incidence of severe complications. Although the evaluation and management of GERD are generally the same in elderly patients as for all adults, there are specific issues of causation, evaluation and treatment that must be considered when dealing with the elderly.

Keywords: Elderly; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Older patient.