Objective: To compare incidence rates and epidemiological characteristics of acute upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage (AUGIH) in France with those of other European studies.
Design: Population-based multi-centre prospective survey.
Setting: 29 public hospitals and 96 private specialists in gastroenterology in four administrative areas in France during 1996.
Subjects: A total of 2133 AUGIH patients 18 years and over were included in the six-month study.
Outcome measures: Incidence and mortality.
Results: The overall incidence in France was 143 cases per 100000 persons per year, classified as out-patients (16%), emergency admissions (59%) and in-patients (25%). The incidence rates increased with age except for in-patients, and were higher in males. Peptic ulcer (36.6%), varices (13.7%) and erosive disease (12.3%) were the most frequent diagnoses. In 677 patients (31.7%), aspirin, antiinflammatory drugs or corticosteroids were taken on the 7 days before bleeding. The overall mortality (out-patients excluded) was 14.3% (10.7% for emergency patients and 23% for in-patients). Mortality was associated with comorbidities (especially malignancies, cirrhosis, asthma or respiratory deficiency), was lower in emergency patients using non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and higher in in-patients using corticosteroids.
Conclusions: In France, patients with AUGIH are frequently managed as out-patients. Gastrotoxic drug use is frequently associated with AUGIH and constitutes a strategic opportunity for preventive treatment. Discrepancies between countries are not clearly explained either by demographic factors or by drug use, but this may be related to the emphasis on AUGIH in in-patients.