Helicobacter pylori infection and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can each result in gastroduodenal ulcers and ulcer complications. Recent studies have suggested that there is an interaction between the two causes such that elimination of H. pylori before NSAID treatment decreases the occurrence of ulcers. This led to the conclusion of the Maastricht 2000 meeting that H. pylori eradication should be considered before embarking on long-term NSAID therapy. One of the main sources of confusion is related to the fact that prospective endoscopic studies testing various drugs for prevention of NSAID ulcers among chronic NSAID users are probably not directly applicable to problems of clinical ulcers and of ulcer complications. It has become clear that, to be interpretable clinically, such studies must provide separate analyses based on H. pylori status, history of ulcer, or an ulcer complication. Overall, the data strongly support the notion that eradication therapy is beneficial for primary prophylaxis. In contrast, one would expect little benefit when NSAIDs caused the clinical ulcer (secondary prevention) and, at best, H. pylori eradication has a modest effect on the prevention of recurrent ulcer bleeding in NSAID users who have suffered ulcer complications. The data support the notion that H. pylori eradication therapy should be given to all H. pylori -infected patients with peptic ulcers irrespective of whether or not they have used NSAIDs. Proton pump inhibitors are superior to placebo for the prevention of ulcer recurrence but are inferior to full-dose misoprostol for the prevention of ulcers among those with NSAID ulcers and no H. pylori infection. Selective COX-2 inhibitors appear to reduce markedly, but not eliminate, ulcer complications among chronic NSAID users.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.