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Upper gastrointestinal bleeding in hospital inpatients: the role of antithrombotic drugs
  1. Ali S Taha1,2,
  2. Claire Kelly1,2,
  3. Caroline McCloskey1,
  4. Theresa Craigen1,
  5. Wilson J Angerson2
  1. 1Gastroenterology Unit, University Hospital Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, UK
  2. 2School of Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr A S Taha, Gastroenterology Unit, University Hospital Crosshouse/University of Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Scotland KA2 0BE, UK; ali.taha1{at}


Background Critically ill patients are considered to be most at risk from developing non-variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding (NVGIB) while in hospital. The increasing prescription of low-dose aspirin and other antithrombotic drugs for protection against thromboembolism to many patients admitted to hospital may increase the vulnerability of a wider group to NVGIB.

Objective This study compares two groups of patients with NVGIB: group I, inpatients cared for outside the intensive care unit; and group II, patients admitted with this condition, while considering the use of antithrombotic drugs.

Methods We identified all patients who developed NVGIB in the two calendar years between 2008 and 2009 and compared group I with group II while taking into account their clinical details including Rockall scores and drug usage.

Results Compared with group II (n=274), group I (n=96) were older (median age of 77 years vs 68; p<0.001), had fewer males (45.8% vs 60.6%; p=0.016), higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease (52.1% vs 29.2%; p<0.001), more patients with complete Rockall score ≥3 (84.4% vs 66.7%; p=0.001) and more patients treated with aspirin or other antithrombotic drugs (64.6% vs 44.5%; p=0.001). After adjustment for age and sex, group I were still significantly more likely to be taking antithrombotic drugs than group II (OR (95% CIs), 2.15 (1.25 to 3.68); p=0.006). The endoscopic abnormalities in more than 80% of patients included erosive oesophagitis, gastric or duodenal ulcers or erosions.

Conclusions Subjects who develop NVGIB as inpatients have higher Rockall scores are mainly older females with cardiovascular disease and using antithrombotic drugs. Secondary care clinicians should be mindful of this at-risk group of patients and consider giving them prophylactic antiulcer therapy.

  • antithrombotics
  • aspirin
  • inpatients
  • non-variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding

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