In a study of patients attending a rheumatology clinic 230 unselected patients, 185 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 45 with other rheumatic disorders (non-RA), were examined by endoscopy and a detailed history of symptoms referable to the gastrointestinal tract was taken. A peptic ulcer was found in 67 (36%) of the patients and in 13 (29%) of the non-RA group. Gastric ulceration was more common in the group with RA (32 patients (17%) compared with three patients (7%) in the non-RA group); 17/32 (53%) patients with RA and gastric ulcer were asymptomatic. In the group with RA, of those with gastric ulcer 20/32 (63%) were smokers, compared with only 40/118 (34%) of the non-ulcer group. There was no difference in the duration of rheumatic disease or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) treatment between the ulcer and non-ulcer groups. Treatment with H2 receptor antagonist and maintenance of NSAID treatment resulted in healing in 26 out of 29 (90%) patients with gastric ulcer and 23 out of 27 (85%) patients with duodenal ulcer.
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