OBJECTIVE: Impaired autonomic function has been observed in patients with gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD), but little is known about autonomic function in patients with non-erosive reflux disease (NERD). The objective of this study was to investigate potential differences in autonomic function by means of heart rate variability in GERD patients with and without erosive esophagitis. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Thirty-five GERD patients and 20 healthy controls participated in the study. Seventeen subjects with NERD and 18 patients with erosive reflux disease (ERD) were identified based on typical reflux symptoms, endoscopic findings, and 24-h esophageal pH. Spectral analysis of heart rate variability was performed to calculate the low-frequency (LF) band, the high-frequency (HF) band, and the LF/HF ratio. RESULTS: No significant differences were found in age, gender, body mass index, or current tobacco use among the reflux patients and controls. The Helicobacter pylori status and severity of reflux symptoms were similar between the two groups. The HF band power was significantly lower in patients with ERD than in NERD patients (p < 0.01) and controls (p < 0.05). LF band power (%) and LF/HF ratio were significantly lower in the NERD patients compared with ERD patients (p < 0.05) and controls (p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant correlation between any heart rate variability parameter and symptom severity score in either the ERD or NERD group. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with ERD and NERD display a similar degree of symptom severity, but the pattern of autonomic function appears to differ between NERD and ERD.
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