Background: There are considerable variations in estimates of the number of emergency upper gastrointestinal admissions per annum which are attributable to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use.
Aim: To obtain a more accurate estimate of the number of these emergency admissions per annum in UK.
Methods: A retrospective survey of the case notes of all emergency admissions for upper gastrointestinal disease ('Cases') to two English District General Hospitals with a combined catchment population of 550,000. Records of all community deaths attributed to upper gastrointestinal diagnoses (with the same ICD codes) were also surveyed. Matched controls were identified from emergency admissions not caused by upper gastrointestinal diagnoses. The proportions of patients taking NSAIDs on admission to hospital (or at the time of death at home) and the outcome following admission to hospital were analysed.
Results: 620 emergency upper gastrointestinal admissions were identified and matched with 460 controls. Cases were more likely to be NSAID users than Controls (31% vs. 16%, OR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.8, 3.3: P < 0.001). Case NSAID use was higher in females and with increasing age. As severity of mode of presentation worsened, the probability of NSAID use increased (e.g. OR relative to controls for peptic pain 1.9, for perforation 5.9). Blood transfusion requirements were significantly higher (P < 0.0001) in Cases taking NSAIDs, although NSAID use did not influence mortality. Extrapolation from these data indicate that there are 65,000 emergency upper gastrointestinal admissions per annum in UK; 12,000 of these admissions (including 2230 deaths) are attributable to NSAID use. A further 330 attributable deaths occur in the community.
Conclusions: There is a strong association between NSAID use and propensity for upper gastrointestinal emergency admission; NSAID use is associated with significant morbidity and mortality each year in UK.