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Hospitalizations are declining for digestive system bleeding

Research Activities, February 2009, No. 365

Improved treatments for acid reflux disease, ulcers, arthritis, and other conditions helped reduce hospital admission rates for internal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract by 14 percent from 1998 to 2006, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The upper gastrointestinal tract (the GI tract) extends from the mouth to the duodenum, part of the small intestine. Bleeding in this area can be caused by ulcers, taking aspirin and other pain medicines, and alcoholism. AHRQ's analysis showed:

  • The hospitalization rate for upper GI bleeding declined from 96 cases per 100,000 people in 1998 (259,299 total cases) to 82 cases per 100,000 people in 2006 (246,297 cases). Potential reasons for the decline include increased use of medications that reduce gastric acid, such as proton pump inhibitors; antibiotic treatment of gastric ulcers caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria; and increased use of the newer COX-2 inhibitor medicines for arthritis or other pain.
  • In 2006, hospitalizations for upper GI bleeding covered a wide age range—47 percent of admissions for patients 65 to 84; 25 percent for patients 45 to 64; 18 percent for patients older than 85; 10 percent for patients under 45.
  • The number of hospital patients who died from upper GI bleeding fell from 20,013 in 1998 to 16,344 in 2006.

For more information, go to Hospitalizations for Gastrointestinal Bleeding in 1998 and 2006, HCUP Statistical Brief #65 (, which also has findings for lower GI bleeding. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

Current as of February 2009
Internet Citation: Hospitalizations are declining for digestive system bleeding: Research Activities, February 2009, No. 365. February 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.