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In the March 2004 issue of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Hashem B. El-Serag, MD, MPH, and Nicholas J. Talley, MD, PhD, reported the results of a systematic review of the literature on dyspepsia published between 1980 and 2002. Results from the analysis of 22 studies showed that the worldwide prevalence of uninvestigated dyspepsia ranges from 10% to 40%. When the definition of dyspepsia was limited to subjects with upper abdominal pain, irrespective of the presence of heartburn or acid regurgitation, the prevalence rate estimate was 5% to 12%.
A variable prognosis was found in the 13 studies that examined the clinical course of functional dyspepsia. An outcome of symptom improvement was reported in at least 50% of patients in 10 of the 13 studies and in at least 66.7% of patients in 6 of the 13 studies. Prognostic factors were inconsistent and, in general, poorly described. The authors concluded that, although functional dyspepsia is prevalent worldwide, its prognosis remains poorly defined.