Alginate therapy is effective treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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In patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and erosive esophagitis, treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is highly effective. However, in some patients, especially those with non-erosive reflux disease or atypical GERD symptoms, acid suppressive therapy with PPIs is not as successful. Alginates are medications that work through an alternative mechanism by displacing the post-prandial gastric acid pocket. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the benefit of alginate-containing compounds in the treatment of patients with symptoms of GERD.PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase and the Cochrane library electronic databases were searched through October 2015 for randomized controlled trials comparing alginate-containing compounds to placebo, antacids, histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) or PPIs for the treatment of GERD symptoms. Additional studies were identified through bibliography review. Non-English studies and those with pediatric patients were excluded. Meta-analyses were performed using random-effects models to calculate odds ratios (OR). Heterogeneity between studies was estimated using the I2 statistic. Analyses were stratified by type of comparator. The search strategy yielded 665 studies and 15 (2.3%) met inclusion criteria. Fourteen were included in the meta-analysis (N = 2095 subjects). Alginate-based therapies increased the odds of resolution of GERD symptoms when compared to placebo or antacids (OR: 4.42; 95% CI 2.45–7.97) with a moderate degree of heterogeneity between studies (I2 = 71%, P = .001). Compared to PPIs or H2RAs, alginates appear less effective but the pooled estimate was not statistically significant (OR: 0.58; 95% CI 0.27–1.22). Alginates are more effective than placebo or antacids for treating GERD symptoms.

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