NEWNAN, GA (October 31, 2011)—Twenty-four-year-old Stuart Sitterson of New York City had always enjoyed a healthy, active lifestyle. But for the past eight years, he had struggled with persistent heartburn symptoms, which he dismissed as bad acid reflux. Upon a recent visit back home to Newnan, his stepfather, Jack Powell, M.D., suggested he talk with family friend and surgeon, Cliff Cranford, M.D., who sees patients at The Piedmont Heartburn Treatment Center, a service of Piedmont Newnan Hospital and Legato Medical Systems.
In August 2011, Dr. Cranford ordered an endoscopy and tests. He was concerned with the results and called Sitterson immediately. The diagnosis was Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which the cells of the lower esophagus become damaged, usually from repeated exposure to stomach acid. Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer and is most often diagnosed in people who have long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus. It is rare for someone Sitterson’s age, and Dr. Cranford recommended surgery to correct the problem.
“Getting the diagnosis was very scary,” said Sitterson. “I asked Dr. Cranford what he would do if it was his son. He said he would take the recommendation of surgery.”
Twenty to forty percent of Americans suffer from GERD. Treatment is often incomplete with patients left to suffer. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but there are many others. The Piedmont Heartburn Treatment Center addresses all aspects of the diagnosis and treatment.
Since its inception in November 2010, the center has assisted nearly 500 patients through a variety of services, including free consultations with its dedicated nurse coordinator, lifestyle change and medication management counseling and diagnostic testing. Diagnostic testing services available at the center have resulted in over 40 cases of severe GERD, including detailed information about each patient’s unique diagnosis. The center also participates in numerous health fairs and educational seminars to promote awareness of GERD and options that can provide relief to patients.
“Patients are provided a comprehensive review of options available for the treatment of GERD,” said Karen Strickland, RN, nurse coordinator for the Piedmont Heartburn Treatment Center. “Although Stuart’s case resulted in a surgical repair for GERD, all patients will not have to undergo surgery. Other options include simple lifestyle changes like diet modifications or medication. Some patients may only want testing or counseling. Every patient’s experience is personalized to best suit their needs.”
Less than a month after surgery, Sitterson is back home resting in New York where he hopes to return to work soon.
“My quality of life has greatly improved already,” said Sitterson. “For anyone out there that thinks they may have symptoms of GERD, I would strongly suggest they see their doctor. It’s not something they have to live with.”
For more information on the Piedmont Heartburn Treatment Center, call 1-877-501-GERD (4373) or visit piedmontnewnan.org.