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Prophylactic aspirin and risk of peptic ulcer bleeding

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 01 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:827
  1. John Weil, senior registrar in public health medicinea,
  2. Duncan Colin-Jones, consultant physicianb,
  3. Michael Langman, professor of medicinec,
  4. David Lawson, consultant physiciand,
  5. Richard Logan, reader in clinical epidemiologye,
  6. Michael Murphy, consultant epidemiologistf,
  7. Michael Rawlins, professor of clinical pharmacologyg,
  8. Martin Vessey, professor of public healthh,
  9. Paul Wainwright, research associatei
  1. a West Midlands Regional Health Authority, Birmingham
  2. b Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth PO6 5LY
  3. c Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TH
  4. d Royal Infirmary, Glasgow G4 0SF
  5. e University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH
  6. f Unit of Health Care Epidemiology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HE
  7. g University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH
  8. h Radcliffe Infirmary, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HE
  9. i Institute of Cancer Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TJ
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Langman.
  • Accepted 31 January 1995


Objective: To determine the risks of hospitalisation for bleeding peptic ulcer with the current prophylactic aspirin regimens of 300 mg daily or less.

Design: A case-control study with hospital and community controls.

Setting: Hospitals in Glasgow, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, and Portsmouth.

Subjects: 1121 patients with gastric or duodenal ulcer bleeding matched with hospital and community controls.

Results: 144 (12.8%) cases had been regular users of aspirin (taken at least five days a week for at least the previous month) compared with 101 (9.0%) hospital and 77 (7.8%) community controls. Odds ratios were raised for all doses of aspirin taken, whether compared with hospital or community controls (compared with combined controls: 75 mg, 2.3 (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 4.4); 150 mg, 3.2 (1.7 to 6.5); 300 mg, 3.9 (2.5 to 6.3)). Results were not explained by confounding influences of age, sex, prior ulcer history or dyspepsia, or concurrent non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use. Risks seemed particularly high in patients who took non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs concurrently.

Conclusion: No conventionally used prophylactic aspirin regimen seems free of the risk of peptic ulcer complications.

Key messages

  • Key messages

  • This finding applies to doses in common use of 75, 150, and 300 mg daily

  • Despite these results, overall benefits of treatment are likely considerably to outweigh possible risks


    • Accepted 31 January 1995
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