- BACKGROUND: Ability to predict freedom from heartburn relapse during maintenance therapy for healed reflux oesophagitis may facilitate optimal treatment choices for individual patients. AIM: To determine factors predicting freedom from heartburn relapse during maintenance proton pump inhibitor therapy in patients with healed reflux oesophagitis. METHODS: This post-hoc analysis used data from the maintenance phase of the EXPO study (AstraZeneca study code: SH-NEG-0008); 2766 patients with healed reflux oesophagitis and resolved heartburn received once-daily esomeprazole 20 mg or pantoprazole 20 mg for 6 months. Multiple logistic regression analysis determined factors associated with freedom from heartburn relapse. RESULTS: Heartburn relapse rates were lower with esomeprazole than pantoprazole in all subgroups analysed. Esomeprazole treatment was the factor most strongly associated with freedom from heartburn relapse (odds ratio 2.08; P < 0.0001). Other factors significantly associated with freedom from heartburn relapse were Helicobacter pylori infection, greater age, non-obesity, absence of epigastric pain at baseline, pre-treatment nonsevere heartburn and GERD symptom duration < or =5 years. CONCLUSIONS: Several factors predict freedom from heartburn relapse during maintenance proton pump inhibitor therapy for healed reflux oesophagitis, the strongest being choice of proton pump inhibitor. These findings outline the importance of optimizing acid control and identifying predictors of relapse for effective long-term symptom management in reflux oesophagitis patients.