Incidence of Gastric Lesions in Patients with Rheumatic Disease on Chronic Aspirin Therapy

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Endoscopy was done in 82 patients with rheumatic disease who were receiving chronic aspirin therapy. Fifty-eight patients were taking at least eight aspirin tablets daily for 3 or more months; 24 patients were taking, in addition to the aspirin, a maximum of one other antiinflammatory, nonsteroidal medication. Endoscopy in 45 normal subjects not taking aspirin showed no ulcers or erosions and a 4% incidence of gastric erythema. In the 82 patients with rheumatic disease, 14(17%) had gastric ulcers, 33 (40%) had gastric erosions, and 62 (76%) had gastric erythema. Regular aspirin and buffered aspirin users had an ulcer incidence of 23% and 31%, respectively, compared with a 6% incidence in entericcoated aspirin users (P < 0.05). One third of all patients with gastric ulcer had no gastrointestinal symptoms. Patients taking chronic aspirin therapy for rheumatic diseases have a higher than suspected incidence of gastric ulcer and erosions. Gastric ulcer may exist without symptoms in such patients.

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