GI Risk and Risk Factors of NSAIDs

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most widely used drugs in the United States. Ulcers are found at endoscopy in 15% to 30% of patients using NSAIDs regularly. The annual incidence of upper gastrointestinal (GI) complications such as bleeding with regular NSAID use is ∼1.0% to 1.5%, whereas the annual rate of upper GI clinical events (complicated plus symptomatic uncomplicated ulcers) is ∼2.5% to 4.5%. Upper GI symptoms such as dyspepsia also occur in many patients taking NSAIDs—at a relative risk of about 1.5 to 2 compared with that in patients without NSAID use. Important risk factors for upper GI clinical events include older age, prior history of upper GI events, use of corticosteroids or anticoagulants, and high-dose or multiple NSAIDs (including NSAID plus low-dose aspirin). Lower GI clinical events such as bleeding may also occur with NSAIDs, although they are less common and less well studied than upper GI events. The decision to employ a protective strategy to decrease NSAID-associated GI clinical events is based on risk stratification. Strategies employed include the use of non-NSAID analgesics, use of lowest effective dose of NSAID, use of medical cotherapy (eg, proton pump inhibitor, misoprostol), or use of coxibs.

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