The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is 10% to 20% in Europe and North America, and about 5% in Asia. This systematic review aimed to quantify the prevalence and incidence of GERD in Latin America, and to determine the potential risk factors and co-morbidities. Systematic literature searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase and the
Scientific Electronic Library On-line. No language restrictions were imposed. Eight studies were identified that reported on the prevalence of heartburn and/or regurgitation in Latin America. The prevalence of heartburn and/or regurgitation was 11.9% to 31.3% in the five studies that reported on at least weekly symptoms, and 25% to 35% in the three studies that did not report on symptom frequency. GERD symptoms were associated with obesity and respiratory diseases. No population- based studies on the incidence of GERD or the prevalence of reflux esophagitis were identified. However, four studies investigated the prevalence of reflux esophagitis in patients referred for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, reporting it to be 35% to 47% in patientsreferred because of GERD symptoms and 13% in patients referred for any indication. The reported prevalence of GERD in Latin America is similar to estimates obtained in previous studies from Europe and North America, and higher than those obtained from Asia. The association of GERD symptoms with specific comorbidities warrants further investigation and should inform patient management.
Keywords: GERD, heartburn, regurgitation, esophagitis, epidemiology, prevalence, Latin America.