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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported March 9, 2012

GERD Be Gone! Magnets Treat Heartburn

SAN DIEGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Chronic heartburn, also known as GERD, keeps millions of Americans from enjoying the foods they love. It can also lead to a dangerous form of cancer. The painful, burning sensations could only be helped by prescription drugs or a very invasive surgery. But now, tiny magnets are helping these patients find relief.

Mixing, heating and topping. It’s all part of the fun for Janet. Whipping up tasty sweets is a passion and a family tradition.

"My mother was a great example," Janet told Ivanhoe. "She was a fantastic cook and baker, and she would bake cookies every single day."

She shared her mom's love of baking, but just a couple years ago food, even food that looked great, wasn't appealing.

"I always had a burning sensation. I always felt a discomfort and burning. I would always think about what I ate before I ate it," Janet said.

Janet had severe heartburn known as GERD. It happens when acids leak up from the stomach into the esophagus. The only treatments are drugs that offer short-term relief or a surgery where doctors knot the stomach around the esophagus.

Now, there’s a magnetic device that stops acid reflux in its tracks.

"It completely solves their problem. These patients now have family members and friends that want the operation," Santiago Horgan, M.D., chief of minimally invasive surgery at UC San Diego Health System, explained.

In a 20-minute procedure, surgeons place the device around the bottom of the esophagus. Magnetic attraction between the beads helps the esophagus open up when food goes down, then close tightly so acid can't find its way up.

"And when food tries to come back up, it's closed, so nothing comes back up, but things can go through," Dr. Horgan said.

After the procedure, patients like Janet can eat what they want right away.

"I’m just so much happier now that I’m eating," Janet said. "I’m eating the regular food and not feeling discomfort or pain."

Janet has even started a blog, and is sharing all of her favorite recipes. She's a passionate baker who has found a way to once again enjoy her favorite treats.

The band is sized to fit each patient. Clinical trials for the device just wrapped up. Dr. Horgan says he hopes it will be FDA approved soon. He says the procedure is simple to perform and there are no food restrictions. The traditional surgery is complicated and patients had to be on a special diet for six weeks. MORE

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Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Santiago Horgan

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at

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