New Treatment for Bleeding Ulcers Reduces Surgery, Death Rates

Armen Hareyan's picture

Bleeding Ulcer Treatment

The heartburn drugs Prilosec and Prevacid reduce the risk of bleeding, abdominal surgery and death when used to treat life-threatening peptic ulcers, according to an updated systematic review of data.

Use of the potent acid-suppressing drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, "provides the greatest benefit to those patients at the greatest risk of serious outcomes," the review says.

Although the review found no evidence that PPI treatment improves survival of patients with less serious ulcers, reductions in re-bleeding and surgery held true.

"The results of this meta-analysis strongly suggest that PPIs should be administered to patients with endoscopically-documented peptic ulcer bleeding," conclude review authors led by Grigoris Leontiadis, M.D., a Greek gastroenterologist.

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A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Ten percent of Americans have them during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Peptic ulcers can be life-threatening if they progress to the point of hemorrhage or perforation. Emergency treatment may include fluid replacement, blood transfusions and injections or cauterization through an endoscope.

"Adequate resuscitation of the patient and endoscopic treatment of the high-risk ulcer continue to be the most important points of management," said review coauthor Colin Howden, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Northwestern University in Chicago. "PPI therapy appears to be beneficial over and above that."

The review appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

The updated review includes pooled data from 24 randomized controlled trials that included nearly 4,400 participants with bleeding peptic ulcers. The trials compared three oral and/or intravenous PPIs