Background Mechanical ventilation increases risk for bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. Proton pump inhibitors, although they are more potent and longer acting inhibitors of gastric acid production than are histamine2 antagonists, also are generally more expensive. Data comparing the 2 types of agents for preventing gastrointestinal bleeding in critically ill patients are limited.
Objectives To compare the effectiveness of famotidine (a histamine2 antagonist) and pantoprazole (a proton pump inhibitor) in preventing stress ulcers in critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation.
Methods Data were collected from the Project Impact database. All patients who received mechanical ventilation for more than 48 hours from November 2002 to June 2006 and were treated with either drug were included. Patients receiving other drugs or with known bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, thrombocytopenia, or coagulopathy were excluded.
Results A total of 522 patients who received famotidine and 95 who received pantoprazole were included. Bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract was more common in patients receiving pantoprazole than in patients receiving famotidine (0.38% vs 3.2%, P= .03). Although scores on the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II were higher in patients who received pantoprazole (P= .01), other outcome measures did not differ significantly between groups. Bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract was more frequent among dialysis patients receiving pantoprazole than among those receiving famotidine.
Conclusions Famotidine and pantoprazole are similarly effective for preventing bleeding in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract in patients receiving mechanical ventilation.