Prevention of anti‐inflammatory drug‐induced gastrointestinal damage: Benefits and risks of therapeutic strategies
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Patients who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may develop serious gastrointestinal (GI) side effects in both the upper and lower GI tract. Those at risk should be considered for prevention with misoprostol, proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or COX-2 selective inhibitor (coxib) therapy. A coxib or an NSAID+PPI combination is considered to have comparable GI safety profiles, but evidence from direct comparison is limited. PPIs are effective in the prevention of upper GI events in endoscopy trials and in a few, small, outcome trials in patients at risk. Coxibs have been evaluated in endoscopic ulcer studies and clinical outcome trials, and shown to significantly reduce the risk of upper GI ulcer and complications. Moreover, unlike PPIs, coxibs significantly reduce toxicity in the lower GI tract compared with NSAIDs. Coxibs and possibly some NSAIDs also increase the risk of developing serious cardiovascular events, an effect which may depend on the drug, dose and duration of therapy. It is not known whether concomitant low-dose aspirin use, which occurs in more than 20% of patients, will reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events, although concomitant aspirin increases the risk of developing serious GI events in patients taking either an NSAID or a coxib. Such patients may require additional PPI co-therapy. Current prevention strategies with an NSAID+PPI, misoprostol or a coxib must be considered in the individual patient with GI and cardiovascular risk factors. A PPI+coxib is indicated in those at highest risk (e.g. previous ulcer bleeding). PPI therapy must be considered for the treatment and prevention of NSAID-induced dyspepsia.