, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 976-980

Resistance to medical therapy of gastric ulcers in rheumatic disease patients taking aspirin

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Little is known about healing or recurrence of aspirin-induced gastric ulcers if aspirin intake is continued. A double-blind controlled study compared cimetidine plus antacids as needed (prn) with placebo plus prn antacids in healing aspirin-associated gastric ulcers during continued salicylate ingestion in 18 rheumatic disease patients over a 2-month period. Healing occurred in 44% of the placebo and 56% of the cimetidine-treated patients (P>0.05). Subjects in both groups ingested potentially therapeutic doses of antacid. Ulcer size had an effect on healing rate, irrespective of treatment. Ninety percent of gastric ulcers<0.5 cm in diameter healed in 2 months but only 25% of ulcers>0.5 cm. Six of seven patients with unhealed ulcers at 2 months eventually healed medically at intervals of 6–26 months. Of 11 patients managed medically and followed endoscopically for a mean of 15 months after healing, only one had a recurrent ulcer. In conclusion, placebo and antacid therapy were as effective as cimetidine and antacids in healing ulcers over a 2-month period. In spite of continued aspirin intake, most benign gastric ulcers <0.5 cm in diameter heal medically in two months. Aspirin-induced ulcers≥1 cm in diameter are relatively resistant to therapy but can be healed with prolonged cimetidine and antacid treatment; once healed, recurrence rate is low with prophylactic therapy even with continued aspirin intake.

This work was supported in part by the Medical Research Service of the Veterans Administration and by CRC NIH grant RR00287-12. Assistance of John Hewitt, PhD, biomedical statistician, is gratefully acknowledged. Data from this paper were presented in part at the annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1980.