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Z Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb;45(2):177-81.

[Prevalence of reflux symptoms in the general population of Cologne].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Viszeral- und Gefässchirurgie, Universität zu Köln, Kerpener Strasse 62, 50931 Köln.



Excessive gastro-esophageal reflux impairs quality of life and predisposes the development of Barrett's mucosa, a precursor to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. At present, the prevalence of reflux symptoms in the general population has not been well enough established.


In a population-based study, five hundred residents of Cologne between the ages of 20 and 90 years (232 or 46 % males and 268 or 54 % females) were randomly selected from the city register and sent a questionnaire with reflux-related questions. 268 replies (54 %) were accepted into the study. Of these, 45 % were men with a median age of 58 years. The median female age was 54 years.


34 % of the respondents (n = 92) admitted having heartburn symptoms. There was no significant difference based on gender. There was little variation in heartburn frequency between individual age groups: only respondents in their forties and those in their sixties had more frequent symptoms (in 45 % of respondents). Heartburn incidence was more common in men between 40 - 50 and in women between 60 - 70 years of age. Twenty-three (25 %) of the 92 respondents with heartburn admitted to reflux symptoms more than twice per week. 45 % of these "refluxers" took medications for their heartburn. 43 % of the refluxers visited a doctor concerning their symptoms, and 72 % of these underwent endoscopy.


Approximately one third of the Cologne adult population suffers gastro-esophageal reflux. Close to ten percent of the population have multiple episodes of symptoms per week. The presence of symptoms occurs indiscriminately in men and women and varies only marginally according to age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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