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June 22, 2022- David Stockton’s painful heartburn was severely impacting his quality of life.

The burning pain of acid digestion, or heartburn, affects an estimated 60 million Americans at least once a month and 15 million people daily, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

“It got to the point where I was unable to stay asleep at night because of the reflux,” said the 42-year-old Lake Worth resident. “It continued to be more intense and more painful.”

When eating daily meals and swallowing liquids became increasingly agonizing, Stockton knew it was time to seek medical attention and determine what needed to be done.

Mark Shachner, MD

Mark Shachner, MD., medical director at Broward Health Coral Springs Heartburn Center, the only hospital-based heartburn center in Broward County, who treated Stockton.

Stockton was a prime candidate for one of the Heartburn Center’s newest interventions, magnetic sphincter augmentation. A minimally invasive procedure, magnetic sphincter augmentation is when a small but flexible ring of magnets is inserted around the esophagus.

Resembling a bracelet, the ring expands and contracts, opening to allow food and liquid down, then closing to prevent stomach contents from moving up. The procedure prevents reflux at the source and does not require alteration to the stomach. Patients usually resume normal activities and diet within a few days.

“GERD is a progressive disease so what starts out as heartburn can potentially lead to severe issues,” Dr. Shachner said. “Many patients watch their diet and take over-the-counter pills thinking they are helping themselves but in the long run this can actually lead to pre-cancerous conditions, such as esophageal cancer.”

Oftentimes, heartburn patients suffer unnecessarily attempting to temporarily ease their symptoms when more permanent solutions are available.

“It was a wake-up call when I found out what I have could potentially lead to cancer,” Stockton said. “All I thought about what I need to get well. I have my kids to take care of.”

Since his surgery a year ago, Stockton is feeling great. “I can eat and drink what I want without any negative consequences,” he said. “I feel like Dr. Shachner is a part of my family. He went out of his way, doing everything he could to make sure I came through this.”

According to Dr. Shachner, “David has an excellence chance of being cured, and I have a high expectation that he will not suffer from reflux again.”

The specialized multidisciplinary Heartburn Center, which opened at Broward Health Coral Springs in 2020, offers advanced treatments for a wide variety of conditions that cause heartburn, such as gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Receiving a professional medical evaluation is critical to determining whether or not heartburn symptoms require further diagnosis. The Broward Health Coral Springs Heartburn Center offers a personalized, multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and determining the best treatment plan for each patient’s unique situation.

To learn more about our Heartburn Center services, call 954-227-GERD (4373) or visit BrowardHealth.org/Heartburn.


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