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ACG: GERD Can Masquerade As Serious Symptoms

Studies find that patients with severe chest pain or chronic cough often have underlying GERD

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause severe chest pain or persistent cough even in the absence of classic heartburn symptoms or acid regurgitation, according to research presented this week at the 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Philadelphia.

Julia J. Liu, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed esophageal pH levels in 31 hospitalized chest-pain patients for two days to determine whether excessive acid caused their chest pain. The investigators found that 57 percent of the patients experienced abnormal acid reflux suggestive of GERD.

Deepika Koya, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues studied patients with persistent cough who took proton pump inhibitors for three years to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of MII-pH, a device that detects reflux regardless of acidity. They found that the new technique detects non-acid reflux better than conventional pH monitoring.

"The use of MII-pH testing in patients who experience reflux of non-acid stomach contents is cost-effective by helping clinicians determine which patients would benefit from anti-reflux surgery and excluding those for whom surgery may have no benefit," Koya said in a statement. "This warrants further evaluation of widespread application of MII-pH testing in the diagnosis of patients with persistent chronic cough on adequate medical therapy."

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