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The Changing Epidemiology of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Are Patients Getting Younger?

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common disease globally with increasing prevalence and consequently greater burden on the Healthcare system. Traditionally, GERD has been considered a disease of middle-aged and older people. Since risk factors for GERD affect a growing number of the adult population, concerns have been raised that increasingly younger people may develop GERD. We aim to determine if the proportion of younger patients has increased among the GERD population.

METHODS: The incidence of GERD as well as several variables were evaluated during an 11-year period. Explorys was used to evaluate datasets at a "Universal" and Healthcare system in northern Ohio to determine if trends at a local level reflected those at a universal level. GERD patients were classified into 7 age groups (15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and ≥ 70 years).

RESULTS: The proportion of patients with GERD increased in all age groups, except for those who were ≥ 70 years in the universal dataset ( P < 0.001) and those who were ≥ 60 years in the Healthcare system ( P < 0.001). The greatest rise was seen in 30-39 years in both datasets ( P < 0.001). Similarly, the proportion of GERD patients who were using proton pump inhibitors increased in all age groups except for those who were ≥ 70 years in both datasets ( P < 0.001), with the greatest increase being the group 30-39 years ( P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of younger patients with GERD, especially those within the age range of 30-39 years.

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