REVIEW
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Review article: maintenance treatment with H2-receptor antagonists for peptic ulcer disease.

In recent years a number of different strategies for managing patients with peptic ulcer disease have become available. The present review discusses the relative merits of each form of treatment. Intermittent treatment (whether given in response to symptoms or as a prophylactic regimen prescribed seasonally or at weekends) fails to prevent ulcer recurrence and leaves patients at risk of haemorrhage and perforation. Anti-Helicobacter pylori therapy, although useful in certain circumstances, cannot be recommended for all patients with ulcer disease because of side effects and, in any case, requires further assessment of efficacy. Gastric surgery reduces ulcer recurrence and complications, but operations which have a low incidence of side effects are associated with higher rates of ulcer recurrence, particularly when patients are followed up for more than 10 years. Long-term continuous maintenance treatment with H2-receptor antagonists for 5 or more years effectively prevents ulcer recurrence in the majority of patients and significantly reduces the risk of ulcer complications. In addition, maintenance treatment has proved to be safe and is well tolerated by patients. Maintenance treatment with H2-receptor antagonists is the preferred option for the management of patients with peptic ulcer disease.

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