Helicobacter pylori infection may affect gastric acid output and intragastric pH. In patients with an insufficient lower esophageal sphincter, this effect may theoretically influence the severity of reflux disease, as well as the efficacy of acid suppressive therapy. To evaluate whether the H. pylori status of patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects the severity of disease and the efficacy of omeprazole therapy to maintain disease remission, we conducted this study.
Patients with GERD were prospectively studied by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with biopsy sampling for histology and H. pylori culture before start of treatment and at annual follow-up. At endoscopy, esophagitis was graded according to the criteria of Savary-Miller, and the presence of Barrett's esophagus, hiatal herniation, or other abnormalities was recorded. Omeprazole was started at an initial dose of 20 mg daily; the dose was adjusted based on symptoms and the endoscopical findings.
One hundred thirty-seven GERD patients were included and followed up for a mean 56.6 months; 49 (36%) of them were infected with H. pylori. H. pylori-infected and -uninfected patients did not differ with respect to age (60 ± 13 vs 61 ± 14 yr, p= 0.65) or duration of follow-up (54 ± 30 vs 58 ± 31 months, p= 0.12). H. pylori-negative patients tended to present with more severe esophagitis at baseline (median Savary-Miller score 3 vs 2, p= 0.06) and had a higher prevalence of Barrett's esophagus (39/88 vs 10/49, p= 0.006). However, no difference was found with respect to the dose of omeprazole needed for maintained relief of symptoms and endoscopical signs of esophagitis (median 40 mg in both groups, p= 0.35).
H. pylori-negative GERD patients have a higher prevalence of Barrett's esophagus, but do not need a higher dose of omeprazole to maintain symptomatic and endoscopical disease remission.