Optimizing proton pump inhibitor therapy for treatment of nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2017 Feb 1;74(3):109-116. doi: 10.2146/ajhp151032.


Purpose: The pharmacology, rationale, and dosing optimization strategies of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for the treatment of upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) are discussed.

Summary: In combination with endoscopic therapy, PPIs are the treatment of choice for UGIB. While the advent of PPIs has improved patient outcomes, controversy still exists over optimal PPI therapy for UGIB. Pharmacologic treatment in combination with endoscopic therapy has demonstrated improved outcomes in patients with nonvariceal UGIB. PPIs are the treatment of choice for suppressing gastric acid and preventing rebleeding, though a mortality benefit from these agents has not been strongly established. Although the current guidelines recommend an i.v. bolus injection followed by continuous infusion of a high-dose PPI, intermittent PPI therapy has been found to be safe and effective while significantly reducing cost, even in patients with high-risk stigmata after endoscopy. Oral PPIs may be effective in patients who can tolerate oral therapy but require further evaluation in patients with higher-risk stigmata. Regardless of stigmata, after 72 hours of i.v. therapy, patients with UGIB may be safely transitioned to oral PPIs if hemodynamically stable and able to tolerate oral medication. As the risk of rebleeding significantly decreases after the first three days, continuation of high-dose therapy beyond 72 hours is not necessary in hemodynamically stable patients.

Conclusion: Current guidelines recommend that PPIs be given as an i.v. bolus injection followed by a continuous infusion, but intermittent i.v. dosing and oral PPI therapy have been found to be effective in treating patients with UGIB and associated with reductions in cost.

Keywords: PPI; UGIB; gastrointestinal bleed; nonvariceal bleeding; proton pump inhibitors; upper GI bleed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / administration & dosage*


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors