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Gastroesophageal reflux disease in COPD: links and risks

Authors Lee AL, Goldstein RS

Received 29 May 2015

Accepted for publication 24 July 2015

Published 14 September 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 1935—1949

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S77562

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Hsiao-Chi Chuang

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Annemarie L Lee,1–3 Roger S Goldstein1,2,4

1West Park Healthcare Centre, 2Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; 3Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Austin Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 4Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract: COPD is a long-term condition associated with considerable disability with a clinical course characterized by episodes of worsening respiratory signs and symptoms associated with exacerbations. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions in the general population and has emerged as a comorbidity of COPD. GERD may be diagnosed by both symptomatic approaches (including both typical and atypical symptoms) and objective measurements. Based on a mix of diagnostic approaches, the prevalence of GERD in COPD ranges from 17% to 78%. Although GERD is usually confined to the lower esophagus in some individuals, it may be associated with pulmonary microaspiration of gastric contents. Possible mechanisms that may contribute to GERD in COPD originate from gastroesophageal dysfunction, including altered pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter (which normally protect against GERD) and changes in esophageal motility. Proposed respiratory contributions to the development of GERD include respiratory medications that may alter esophageal sphincter tone and changes in respiratory mechanics, with increased lung hyperinflation compromising the antireflux barrier. Although the specific cause and effect relationship between GERD and COPD has not been fully elucidated, GERD may influence lung disease severity and has been identified as a significant predictor of acute exacerbations of COPD. Further clinical effects could include a poorer health-related quality of life and an increased cost in health care, although these factors require further clarification. There are both medical and surgical options available for the treatment of GERD in COPD and while extensive studies in this population have not been undertaken, this comorbidity may be amenable to treatment.

Keywords: COPD, GERD, pulmonary aspiration, treatment

A letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article.

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