Background: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used, but are not without risks.
Aim: To provide evidence-based management recommendations to help clinicians determine optimal long-term NSAID therapy and the need for gastroprotective strategies based on an assessment of both gastrointestinal (GI) and cardiovascular (CV) risks.
Methods: A multidisciplinary group of 21 voting participants revised and voted on the statements and the strength of evidence (assessed according to GRADE) at a consensus meeting.
Results: An algorithmic approach was developed to help manage patients who require long-term NSAID therapy. The use of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid in patients with high CV risk was assumed. For patients at low GI and CV risk, a traditional NSAID alone may be acceptable. For patients with low GI risk and high CV risk, full-dose naproxen may have a lower potential for CV risk than other NSAIDs. In patients with high GI and low CV risk, a COX-2 inhibitor plus a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) may offer the best GI safety profile. When both GI and CV risks are high and NSAID therapy is absolutely necessary, risk should be prioritized. If the primary concern is GI risk, a COX-2 inhibitor plus a PPI is recommended; if CV risk, naproxen 500 mg b.d. plus a PPI would be preferred. NSAIDs should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration.
Conclusion: More large, long-term trials that examine clinical outcomes of complicated and symptomatic upper and lower GI ulcers are needed.