Health & Wellness

Boomer Edition | 11th Annual - 2015

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Page 19 of 83

GERD attack a need For oPTions "Nexium was the second-top-selling prescription drug in the United States last year," says Dr. Reginald Bell, referring to the purple acid- reducing pill, which surpassed $6 billion in sales, outdone only by the antipsychotic drug Abilify. Now doctors are learning that many of the people taking the acid-reducers (which include Prilosec) are not having their symptoms adequately controlled, which can be deadly. "There are an increasing number of patients who started out with control of their symptoms who are now not getting relief," says Dr. Ashwin Kurian, who specializes in GERD surgery at Swedish with Bell. "Many are showing signs of pre-cancer (Barrett's esophagus) or getting cancer." The increases are epidemic and concerning, particularly since esophageal cancer doesn't have the survival rates of some other cancers, Bell says. "It's not just about the number of people affected; it's about the number of people who will likely die." swedish Medical center offers Minimally invasive Procedures to Fight a Very invasive Problem GERD attack "I was volunteering in Central America and having a lot of issues with chronic laryngitis," says Holmberg, 27, a nursing aide who plans to finish a physician assistant's degree at Colorado State University. "I would lose my voice for long periods of time. So in addition to the discomforts of heartburn, I could hardly communicate. I cut out caffeine, alcohol, fast foods, fatty foods, and no matter what I did, it wasn't enough." Doctors say Holmberg's situation has become all-too common, with gastroesophageal reflux disease reaching every age group and topping the health-issue charts. In response, surgeons at Swedish Medical Center have sounded the alarm and offered patients better care and more options for a problem doctors say is not only growing, but is not being taken seriously enough. David Holmberg made all of the tough changes: Starbucks? Scratch it. Weekend brews? No way. McDonald's? Not in this life. But no matter what he cut from his diet, and regardless of how many acid-reducing pills he popped, the Fort Collins resident couldn't smother his chronic heartburn, which disrupted his days for more than five years with sore throats, sinus congestion, chest discomfort and voice problems. by Debra Melani 18 • Medical Profile

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