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Prevalence of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Native Americans


Young, Michele A. M.D.; Palovaara, Patricia; Akins, Rodney L.P.N.; Beymer, Charles M.D.; Ramirez, Francisco C. M.D.

American Journal of Gastroenterology: September 2005 - Volume 100 - Issue - p S32–S33
Supplement Abstracts Submitted for the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology: ESOPHAGUS

Gastroenterology, Carl Hayden VA Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ and Gastroenterology, Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ.

Purpose: A recent Gallup survey found that 40% of Americans suffer from heartburn at least once a month. The American population is heterogenous, and thus the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) should be expected to vary among these different population groups.

Aim: To determine the prevalence of GER in Native Americans (NA).

Methods: Patients from an Indian Medical Center attending primary care clinics were asked to complete a survey regarding the presence and frequency of heartburn and regurgitation. For comparison purposes, pts attending a VA Medical Center primary care clinics (a population mostly Caucasian) were also surveyed regarding the above symptoms of GER. For the NA population their primary residence (urban vs. rural) was also recorded. Demographic data was obtained in both the NA and VA populations.

Chi square was used to compare proportional data whereas, the student's t-test was used to compare means.

Results: A total of 1553 NA (representing over 25 tribes) and 1004 VA pts completed the survey. Demographics are shown in table 1.



Percent of pts (NA and VA) reporting heartburn and regugitation are shown in table 2.



Regarding the frequency of GER symptoms, VA pts reported more daily heartburn (40%) and regurgitation (40%) compared to the NA (32% and 38%, respectively) pts. This difference, however only approached statistical significance (p = 0.1).


  1. NA report heartburn less often than VA pts, regardless of age and gender.
  2. NA experience less daily heartburn than VA pts.
  3. The difference in GER prevalence between NA and VA populations needs to be explored further.
© The American College of Gastroenterology 2005. All Rights Reserved.