Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It’s a symptom of acid reflux – where stomach acid gets into the oesophagus and – as this is located behind the heart – causes a burning sensation in that area. If you have acid reflux you may also get a bitter taste in your mouth caused by the acid travelling up your throat.
Many people suffer from acid reflux every now and again but for some it can become a persistent disease known as GORD (Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease). Thankfully there are treatment options available.
If the condition is serious then minimally-invasive keyhole surgery can be carried out using the LINX system. This is a small flexible band of magnetic beads placed around the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus that creates a barrier to the reflux of acid from the stomach.
Mr Majid Hashemi is a leading GORD specialist and was the first surgeon to use the LINX system in the UK.
Below, Mr Hashemi answers all our questions about acid reflux, how it can be treated and why you should visit the GI (gastrointestinal) unit at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital if you are suffering from the condition.
Is acid reflux common?
40% of the population has acid reflux at some point in their lives. However, it is those patients where it is persistent and recurrent that it starts to lead to other problems and impact on their day to day lives. The modern western lifestyle, day-to-day stresses, irregular eating and bad sleeping habits are all contributors. Being overweight also makes heartburn worse and when it does occur in this group it tends to be more damaging.
If I have acid reflux should I consider surgery?
Any person who requires medication to control their symptoms and becomes medication-dependent should seek treatment. If you are over the age of 40 with long-term heartburn or recent worsening symptoms you should have an endoscopy to rule out other serious diseases.
If a patient is suffering from a cough or voice loss because of their heartburn then surgery will prevent further deterioration of the voice or lungs that can result from the reflux.
What can a patient expect from a consultation with you?
During the consultation, a detailed history is obtained and a careful analysis is made. A treatment regime is then drawn up, initially with medical management if this has not been tried. If the consequences or heartburn are severe or patients are medication dependent then a plan for surgical treatment is drawn up.
How effective is surgery for acid reflux?
Surgery leads to a good outcome in over 95% of patients. However, prior to surgery it is important to 1) establish the presence of reflux and 2) be as sure as possible that the symptoms the patient is suffering from are indeed a result of the reflux.
How long is the recovery period following surgery?
In 99.7% of the cases we carry out the operation via keyhole surgery which is minimally invasive. Surgery takes one to two hours and the patients require 24 to 48 hours in hospital. They can often return to work the following week.
Why choose the GI Unit at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital?
We have extensive experience in dealing with patients with heartburn, from those with mild reflux to the most extreme cases. We also offer a very competitive self-pay package for those who don’t have private health insurance.
If you are suffering from acid reflux and would like to learn more about the LINX system, you can make an enquiry with Mr Majid Hashemi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 078 09 74 2 339.
You can click to book an appointment at our GI Unit, or call 020 7078 3802 or email email@example.com to make a general enquiry.