Background: Since the mid-1980s there has been great improvement in the available diagnostic tools and treatments for peptic ulcers. The aim of this study was to determine whether these improvements have been paralleled by decreasing age- and sex-specific hospitalization and death rates for peptic ulcers in Denmark.
Methods: The study was based on all discharges from Danish somatic hospitals as registered in the National Hospital Discharge Registry and all the death certificates as registered in the Danish National Board of Health from 1981 through 1993, when a diagnosis of peptic ulcer was recorded. The age- and sex-specific and age-adjusted hospitalization and death rates were estimated.
Results: In men the age-adjusted hospitalization rate for all types of peptic ulcers decreased by 0.88, but the mortality increased by 1.19. In women the age-adjusted hospitalization and mortality increased for all types of peptic ulcers. The increasing mortality was mainly due to bleeding and perforated duodenal ulcers. The analysis of the age-specific hospitalization and mortality for peptic ulcer complications showed that the increasing trends mainly occurred among the elderly.
Conclusion: The improved medical treatment of peptic ulcers has not been paralleled by decreasing hospitalization or death from complicated peptic ulcers in Denmark. On the contrary, we found an increasing hospitalization and mortality from peptic ulcer complications, particularly in elderly Danish people.