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Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often mimic the characteristics of cardiac pain. Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggests that GERD and coronary heart disease may frequently coexist, and that the symptoms of GERD may even aggravate myocardial ischemia.
The results of a population-based cohort study conducted by Saga Johansson, MD, PhD, and colleagues were published in the November 2003 issue of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. In this study, risk factors for myocardial infarction (MI) were assessed in patients with GERD (n = 7084) and in individuals who did not suffer from GERD (n = 10,000) who were matched by age and sex to the GERD cohort. All participants were between 18 and 79 years of age and were registered in the General Practice Research Database.
Results showed that the incidence of MI in patients with GERD was 5.1 per 1000 person-years, compared with 4.0 per 1000 person-years in the general population. The relative risk of MI in patients with GERD was 1.4, but this increased risk was limited to the days immediately after GERD was diagnosed. The authors conclude that GERD is not an independent predictor of MI, and that the increased risk of MI in patients newly diagnosed with GERD represents prodromal ischemic symptoms misinterpreted as reflux disease.