Popular Heartburn Drugs Help Fight Peptic Ulcers

Drugs like Prevacid or Prilosec cut bleeding risks, research shows

MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Widely used proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like Prilosec or Prevacid can reduce the risk of bleeding, abdominal surgery and death when used to treat life-threatening peptic ulcers, concludes a review of the current data.

PPIs are stomach acid-suppressing drugs.

Ten percent of Americans have a peptic ulcer during their lifetime. This kind of ulcer is a sore in the lining of the small intestine or stomach, and can pose a serous risk should progress to the point where it causes perforation or hemorrhage. In such cases, patients need emergency treatment.

This review looked at 24 studies that included nearly 4,400 people with bleeding peptic ulcers. The review authors concluded that PPIs provided, "the greatest benefit to those patients at the greatest risk of serious outcomes."

Re-bleeding rates were 10.6 percent for patients treated with PPIs, compared with 17.3 percent for other or no treatment. The surgical rate was 6.1 percent for patients treated with PPIs, compared with 9.3 percent for other or no treatment combined.

PPIs significantly reduced deaths among patients with active bleeding.

While PPIs did benefit high-risk patients, the review found no evidence that treatment with PPIs improved survival of patients with less serous ulcers.

"The results of this meta-analysis strongly suggest that PPIs should be administered to patients with endoscopically-documented peptic ulcer bleeding," the authors concluded.

The findings appear in the latest issue of the journal Cochrane Library. Two of this study's co-authors have received research support and speaking honoraria from pharmaceutical companies.

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

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about peptic ulcers.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Jan. 24, 2006
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