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Consensus Document Outlines Practical Steps for Reducing Gastrointestinal Risks of Antiplatelet and NSAID Use
Date:10/6/2008

Leading Medical Associations Collaborate to Improve Patient Safety

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American College of Cardiology in collaboration with the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Heart Association today released consensus guidelines outlining a stepwise approach for reducing the risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding among patients using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) along with antiplatelet agents.

Gastrointestinal bleeding is a major and potentially life-threatening complication for patients taking antiplatelet and NSAID therapy, according to Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., document co-chair and chief of cardiology, VA Boston Healthcare System. Patients taking low-dose aspirin plus NSAIDs have a two- to four-fold increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding compared with those not taking these medications.

NSAIDs - the most widely used class of medications in the United States - can reduce fever, pain, and inflammation (swelling and redness). Some are available over the counter (OTC), while others require a prescription. The best-known NSAID is aspirin (which also acts as an antiplatelet agent). Other common NSAIDs are ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen.

Antiplatelet drug treatment, which reduces the blood's ability to clot, is considered a cornerstone in cardiovascular prevention - preventing an event (or subsequent event) in people with atherosclerotic disease. This is usually accomplished by prescribing daily low-dose aspirin. Antiplatelet agents (usually aspirin plus clopidogrel) are also recommended for patients after receiving coronary artery stents to prevent dangerous clotting that could cause a heart attack.

As more Americans survive and live with heart disease in addition to conditions that require them to take NSAIDs (e.g., arthritis, inflammation and related musculoskeletal pain), managing GI risk will become an increasingly important part of card
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SOURCE American College of Gastroenterology; American College of
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