Exploring the Impact of GERD on Sleep Quality and Economic Stability

September 1, 2009

Gastroesophageal reflux disease has a negative impact on both the sleep quality and the economic status of patients with the disease, according to the results of a new study.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has a negative impact on both the sleep quality and the economic status of patients with the disease, according to the results of a new study from Thomas Jefferson University, Consumer Health Sciences, a health outcomes and marketing information firm, and the Karolinska Institutet, a medical university in Sweden.

The researchers explored the impact of the sleeping pill Ambien on patients who have been diagnosed with GERD and patients without the disease, as well as the impact of GERD on sleep quality and the role that GERD and poor sleep has on economics, such as visits to healthcare professionals and time away from work due to lack of sleep. In the patients with and without GERD taking Ambien for insomnia, the researchers found that acid reflux resulting in sleep arousal “89 percent of the time in participants (with and without GERD) given placebo but only 40 percent” of the time in patients given Ambien. In addition, patients taking the placebo medication generally had shorter periods of acid reflux events that did and did not wake them up than those given Ambien.

For the portion of the study that examined Ambien’s role on sleep quality, there were eight controls and 16 GERD patients who were given Ambien or placebo “on separate nights,” and the “number of reflux events and reflux-associated arousals or awakenings” were then recorded.

In regard to GERD’s economic impact, the researchers found that, in patients with the disease, “88.9 percent experienced nighttime symptoms, 68.3 percent sleep difficulties, 49.1 percent difficulty falling asleep and 58.3 percent difficulty staying asleep.” These problems, in turn, resulted in a poorer quality of life. Patients with sleeping issues reported “greater use of health-care resources (0.9 additional provider visits), loss of work productivity (5.5 percent decrease) and increased impairment of daily activities (10.9 percent increase),” which the researchers say contributes to the “increased economic burden” that GERD can have on patients.

The results of the economic impact of GERD came from data the researched obtained “from a patient-reported survey conducted in 2006 among the general U.S. population” that included 11,685 patients with GERD.

According to Catarina Jansson, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet and lead author of the study, the results “may be of clinical relevance since a separate randomized controlled trial showed that sleep problems were improved after GERD therapy” and “may also explain the reduced work productivity associated with GERD.”