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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could cause gastrointestinal complications.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to enable manifold benefits for patients, but health care providers should tread carefully, evaluating potential risks before such drugs are recommended for their patients, according to a diverse expert panel.// Gastrointestinal (GI) morbidities are becoming common fallouts of NSAID use that could mean complications in both the upper- and lower-GI tracts; this may include even serious GI complications, even ulcers with profuse bleeding, which is observed in one to four percent of NSAID users annually.

The findings of the panel, 'Consensus Development Conference on the Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Including Cyclooxygenase-2 Enzyme Inhibitors and Aspirin,' were published in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, published by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.

'NSAIDs are the most widely used medications in the world, and the broad use of these drugs confirms their effectiveness and relative safety,' according to C. Mel Wilcox, MD, professor of medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and lead author of the paper. 'However, well-recognized GI complications and previously unrecognized cardiac risks have caused great concern about the use of these drugs among healthcare professionals. The AGA Institute convened the consensus conference to increase awareness about the benefits and the risks of GI and cardiovascular toxicities associated with these medications and to improve their use.'

An estimated 50 billion aspirin tablets are consumed worldwide and approximately 60 million prescriptions are written for NSAIDs each year in the U.S., predominantly for older patients. These drugs are effective in acute and chronic treatment of painful and inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions, among others. However, NSAID use is associated with several risks including GI, renal and cardiovascular complications, including h
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