Conference Coverage

SSRIs don’t boost risk in patients with bleeding peptic ulcers


AT DDW 2016

SAN DIEGO – Taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) was not associated with an increased risk of endoscopy-refractory bleeding, rebleeding, or in-hospital mortality among 14,343 consecutive patients admitted with bleeding peptic ulcer in Denmark.

The study suggests that patients with bleeding peptic ulcers can “continue SSRI treatment if the treatment is well indicated,” and that these patients can otherwise receive treatment similar to that of other patients with peptic ulcer bleeding, Dr. Stig B. Laursen reported at the annual Digestive Disease Week.

Dr. Stig B. Laursen

Dr. Stig B. Laursen

Observational research has linked use of SSRI antidepressants to an approximately 1.5-fold increase in upper GI bleeding in peptic ulcer bleeding cases, said Dr. Laursen of Odense (Denmark) University Hospital. Studies, mostly in vitro ones, indicate SSRIs decrease the function of thrombocytes and fibrin formation via lowered levels of serotonin. Therefore, it has been suggested that temporarily discontinuing SSRIs may benefit patients with bleeding peptic ulcers.

However, sudden cessation of SSRIs can be associated with withdrawal symptoms, which have been reported in up to one-third of such patients.

Dr. Laursen and his associates prospectively analyzed data for 14,343 consecutive patients admitted with bleeding peptic ulcers in Denmark from 2006 to 2014. They investigated associations between SSRI use and several outcomes, adjusted for confounding factors including age, sex, comorbidity, anemia, medication use, circulatory failure at hospital admission, location of ulcer, stigmata of bleeding, and weekend admission.

After adjustment for confounding risk factors, SSRIs were not associated with increased risk of endoscopy-refractory bleeding (odds ratio [OR] 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01 [0.78-1.30]), rebleeding (OR [95% CI]: 0.94 [0.81-1.10]), or in-hospital mortality (hazard ratio [95% CI]: 0.84 [0.68-1.05]).

“Patients taking SSRIs have the same outcomes following peptic ulcer bleeding as non-SSRI users. This suggests that there is no clinically significant impairment of hemostatic function,” Dr. Laursen said. “Therefore, it seems safe to continue SSRI treatment in patients developing peptic ulcer bleeding and thereby avoid development of withdrawal symptoms.”

Dr. Laursen noted that the study has several limitations. It’s not a randomized controlled trial, he said, and there’s no information about the types of SSRIs that the patients were taking. Also, there’s a lack of information about possible discontinuation of SSRIs during hospitalization. However, he said, “that doesn’t seem to be a major confounder.”

During the question-and-answer session following his presentation, Dr. Laursen said the increased risk of poor outcome is quite low, but “there may be a small risk that we haven’t found yet. But if it’s small, maybe it doesn’t have an impact in day-to-day practice.”

The research is hospital-funded. Dr. Laursen had no financial disclosures to report.

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