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Summary

Background : In gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) subjects treated with a gastric anti-secretory agent, it is not known whether there is a relationship between heartburn severity and oesophageal acid exposure.

Methods : Oesophageal pH and heartburn severity were determined in 27 GERD subjects at baseline and on days 1, 2 and 8 of treatment with 20 mg omeprazole or 20 mg rabeprazole in a randomized, two-way crossover fashion.

Results : Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to determine values for heartburn severity that gave optimal cut-off points for distinguishing between normal and pathologic oesophageal reflux. Using these cut-off points, we found that the probability of no pathologic oesophageal reflux (Y) could be best fitted by an exponential equation: Y = a(ebX) + c, where a, b and c are constants and X is the value of heartburn severity. There was close agreement between predicted and observed percentages of subjects with pathologic oesophageal reflux during different days of treatment.

Conclusions : In GERD subjects treated with a proton-pump inhibitor, the value of heartburn severity following a single standard meal can predict the likelihood of pathologic oesophageal reflux over the entire 24-h period.