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Short-term use of glucocorticoids and risk of peptic ulcer bleeding: a nationwide population-based case-crossover study.

BACKGROUND: Controversy exists regarding glucocorticoids therapy and the risk of peptic ulcer bleeding (PUB).

AIM: The present study was undertaken to determine whether short-term use of glucocorticoids is associated with the occurrence of peptic ulcer bleeding.

METHODS: The records of adult patients hospitalised for newly diagnosed peptic ulcer bleeding from 2000 to 2012 were retrieved from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, a nationwide population-based registry system. The association between systemic glucocorticoids usage and peptic ulcer bleeding was determined with a conditional logistic regression model comparing cases and controls during time windows of 7, 14 and 28 days using a case-crossover design.

RESULTS: Of the 8894 enrolled patients, the adjusted self-matched odds ratios for peptic ulcer bleeding after exposure to the glucocorticoids were 1.37 (95% CI: 1.12-1.68, P = 0.003) for the 7-day window, 1.66 (95% CI: 1.38-2.00, P < 0.001) for the 14-day window and 1.84 (95% CI: 1.57-2.16, P < 0.001) for the 28-day window. Moderate to high, but not low dose glucocorticoids (methylprednisolone <4 mg/day or its equivalence) were associated with an increased risk of peptic ulcer bleeding. Concomitant use of a nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or aspirin further elevated the risk. However, it does not eliminate the effect of underlying diseases flare-up that may have placed the patients at risk for peptic ulcer bleeding in this kind of study design.

CONCLUSIONS: Short-term (7-28 days) exposure to glucocorticoids is significantly associated with peptic ulcer bleeding; this risk seems dose-dependent and is higher when nonselective NSAIDs or aspirin are used concurrently.

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