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Peptic Ulcer Hospitalizations Plummet, Says CDC

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 11, 2010

Each year in the U.S., six million people, roughly the population of Massachusetts, get peptic ulcer disease, most of which is caused by infection with a specific bacteria, H. pylori.

But in recent years, far fewer of them have required hospitalization. According to an article in the Wednesday's issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the age-adjusted rate of hospitalization for patients diagnosed with peptic ulcer disease decreased by 21% (from 71.1 per 100,000 population to 56.5) between 1998 and 2005.

The decline was subsequent to the 1997 launch of an educational campaign by federal agencies, academic medical institutions and private industry to promote use antimicrobial drugs on the bacteria.

Researchers realized in 1983 that peptic ulcer disease was caused by a bacteria and could be effectively treated with drugs without hospitalization. And though hospitalizations to treat bleeding and perforations declined somewhat they remained unacceptably high, apparently because providers and patients were poorly educated about its simple cause, according to a 1995 CDC report.

Practitioners remained skeptical or unaware that a bug was the issue. "One reason was the lack of knowledge among the general public and clinicians about the link," says the current article.

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