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New Nationwide Survey Identifies Need for Increased Dialogue Between Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or Frequent Heartburn Sufferers and Health Care Providers

BETHESDA, Md., March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- According to findings from the new nationwide DISCUSS (Defining and Identifying GapS in CommUnication between GERD and/or Heartburn Sufferers and PhysicianS) Survey, many people surveyed report that their gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and/or persistent heartburn symptoms significantly disrupt their lives. Additionally, more than half say that currently they "occasionally" (39 percent) or "never" (19 percent) discuss GERD and/or heartburn symptoms with a health care provider (HCP). The survey was released today by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) in partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. (Takeda).

The DISCUSS Survey, fielded by Braun Research, Inc., surveyed 1,004 American adults who identified themselves as having GERD, also known as acid reflux disease, and/or frequent and persistent heartburn and who said they experience GERD and/or heartburn symptoms two or more times per week when not treating the condition ("sufferers"). Approximately three out of four sufferers (77 percent) describe their GERD and/or heartburn symptoms as moderate to severe, and one-third (33 percent) have had to cancel social activities or leave a social event early because of their symptoms. Also, GERD and/or heartburn symptoms have caused 31 percent of respondents to limit their physical activity, with approximately two-thirds (205/309) of those who report limits on physical activity being women. Currently, nearly one in five sufferers never discusses symptoms with an HCP. These findings highlight the importance of active, ongoing conversations about the symptoms and triggers of GERD and/or heartburn between sufferers and HCPs and suggest that resources to help open and improve the lines of communications should be made available.

GERD is a chronic condition that affects nearly 19 million Americans and is often characterized by persistent heartburn that occurs two or more days a week despite treatment and diet changes. Additional symptoms can include regurgitation (a sensation of food coming back into the mouth, accompanied by an acidic or bitter taste), sore throat, hoarseness, and a feeling of a lump in the throat. GERD affects both men and women and may be associated with serious complications over time.

"Recognizing and understanding the intensity and frequency of GERD symptoms is a key element in being able to diagnose and determine appropriate management and treatment strategies," says Prateek Sharma, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Mo. "Some of these findings suggest that many patients trivialize their symptoms and thus don't talk to their health care provider about the impact GERD is having on their lives. I encourage my patients to be open and descriptive about what they're experiencing. Then, together we can work to determine a plan of action to address their specific needs."

Findings Highlight Need to Make GERD and/or Heartburn Dialogue a Priority

  • One-third (34 percent) of sufferers report waiting 12 months or more after first experiencing symptoms to visit their HCP.
  • Forty percent of respondents have not discussed symptoms with their HCP in the past 12 months.
  • Approximately one in five sufferers (22 percent, n=796) does not discuss their symptoms until the end of the appointment when the doctor is leaving or only if the doctor asks.
  • Seventy-four percent (n=919) of those who have spoken to their HCP about their GERD and/or heartburn symptoms discuss the severity of their symptoms.
  • One in five reports (n=919) having trouble getting their HCP to understand the severity of their symptoms.
  • Most sufferers report that food triggers their symptoms, specifically eating spicy foods (74 percent), foods containing tomatoes (73 percent), or fried or fatty foods (69 percent). In addition, sufferers report that eating a large meal (70 percent) or eating too close to bedtime (70 percent) triggers their symptoms.  
  • Many sufferers are interested in tools to help better communicate with their HCP about their GERD and/or heartburn, such as a symptom checklist to be filled out prior to their appointment (52 percent) and/or a list of questions to ask their HCP (50 percent).

In response to the survey, the AGA and Takeda have created a new tool to help facilitate patient-HCP communication about GERD symptoms. This new tool, and other information about GERD, is available at

About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

People experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in a variety of ways. Persistent heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD and usually feels like a burning pain that starts behind the breastbone and radiates upward to the neck. GERD occurs when the muscle located between the esophagus and stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, opens when it should be closed, allowing for acid or other stomach contents back up into the esophagus. GERD is often triggered by certain foods, pressure on the abdomen, and/or being overweight, and may be associated with serious complications over time, such as esophageal strictures and Barrett's esophagus.

About the DISCUSS Survey

The DISCUSS Survey (Defining and Identifying GapS in CommUnication between GERD and/or Heartburn Sufferers and PhysicianS) was developed by the American Gastroenterological Association in partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., and fielded by Braun Research, Inc. The survey was conducted in the United States from Oct. 15 to Nov. 4, 2010, via telephone among a nationally representative sample of adults who reported having persistent heartburn and/or GERD (also known as acid reflux disease) in the last 12 months and who said they experience symptoms two or more times per week without treatment. Respondents had not been pregnant in the last 12 months. Results of the survey of this size are projectable to the larger population with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The margin of error for findings is +/-3.1 percentage points.

About Braun Research, Inc. (BRI)

Braun Research, Inc. (BRI) is a well respected and internationally recognized firm which employs techniques and standards approved by leading survey research academic organizations in the world. BRI is an active member in a number of respected organizations throughout the industry, including AAPOR (The American Association for Public Opinion Research), CMOR (Council on Marketing and Opinion Research) and CASRO (Council on American Survey Research Organizations).

About the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. For more information on the AGA, visit

Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., and Takeda Global Research & Development Center, Inc.

Based in Deerfield, Ill., Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. and Takeda Global Research & Development Center, Inc. are subsidiaries of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan. The respective companies currently market oral diabetes, insomnia, rheumatology and gastroenterology treatments and seek to bring innovative products to patients through a pipeline that includes compounds in development for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gastroenterology, neurology and other conditions. To learn more about these Takeda companies, visit

SOURCE American Gastroenterological Association; Takeda Pharmaceutical North America, Inc.
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