Heartburn and Reflux: An Interview with Irteza Inayat, MD

Welcome to the fourth post in our series on the Heartburn and Reflux Center at Florida Hospital Altamonte. This post is an interview with Dr. Irteza Inayat, a board-certified physician in gastroenterology and internal medicine, and fellowship trained in gastroenterology, hepatology, and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a specialized technique used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder.

Dr. Inayat completed his residency, along with an extensive fellowship, at Yale University School of Medicine, where he received the John W. Brackett Residency Teacher of the Year Award. He can diagnose and treat a wide range of digestive diseases, with a special emphasis on treatment of chronic liver disease, advanced colorectal neoplasm using EMR technique, and Radio Frequency Ablation of Barrett’s Esophagus (a precancer condition of esophagus related to acid reflux disease, which was discussed in our last post in this series).

Seminole Magazine: In your own words, tell us about the importance of the new center.

Dr. Inayat:

The prevalence of GERD in North America ranges between 18 and 25 percent, making it one of the most common GI problem affecting the general population. In addition to this, about 30-45 percent of patients are not satisfied/well controlled on their treatment of GERD. Appropriate management of GERD requires:

  • accurate diagnosis (GERD vs functional heartburn, acid vs non-acid reflux, anatomical abnormalities, or alternative diagnosis)
  • effective, treatment tailored to individual patients (medical vs surgical vs endoscopic therapies)
  • evidence-based long-term follow-up and surveillance for perchance conditions
  • endoscopic, minimally invasive endoscopic and surgical therapies
  • a multidisciplinary team

SM: What are the most common misconceptions patients have about GERD?

Dr I: There are two. First, GERD is not a benign disease. It is a known risk factor for development of esophageal cancer. Second, antacids or acid-reducing medications only change the pH of refluxate but do not change the mechanism, frequency, or volume of [it].

SM: What made you want to work in gastroenterology?

Dr I: Gastroenterology is a unique field in medicine that involves office-based patient practice, hospital-based patient care, and opportunity to perform endoscopic procedure, making it a procedure-oriented medical subspecialty. I was always interested in a field of medicine that would give me the opportunity to diagnose and treat my patients [in a way that would] involve both approaches—a hybrid of medical and surgical specialties. Now there are new diagnostic advances and minimally invasive interventional endoscopic therapies for conditions that were historically treated with surgery.

SM: Can you tell us about any particular success stories you have experienced with patients?

Dr I: One of my patients who came to see us from South Florida was found on endoscopy to have Barrett’s esophagus with high-grade dysplasia (HGD), which is a precancer condition (and according to some data and expert opinion, it is already hiding cancer). Due to early and timely detection, he was a candidate for endoscopic therapy with radio frequency ablation and EMR. These are both outpatient endoscopic therapies. He has been followed closely and has been Barrett’s and cancer free for more than two years now.

SM: What do you want people to know about GERD, and about when to seek the help of a gastroenterologist?

Dr I: Everyone with heartburn/GERD who has any one or more of the following risk factors, should seek evaluation with an expert gastroenterologist with special interest in esophageal disorders:

  • Long-standing (more than five years) heartburn and/or not responding completely to medications
  • Age >50
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • History of smoking
  • Family history of esophageal cancer
  • Obesity
  • Caucasian race

Seminole Magazine would like to thank Dr. Inayat and the entire team at the Heartburn and Reflux Center. We will be featuring the center again later in the year in order to learn more about the conditions they treat and how they are making a difference for patients in Seminole County. To learn more in the meantime, contact the Heartburn & Reflux Center at Florida Hospital Altamonte Springs.