Motivated by a new randomized trial (the PEPTIC trial) that raised the issue of an increase in mortality with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) relative to histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs), we updated our prior systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) addressing the impact of pharmacological gastrointestinal bleeding prophylaxis in critically ill patients.
Seventy-four trials enrolling 39 569 patients proved eligible. Both PPIs (risk ratio (RR) 1.03, 95% credible interval 0.93 to 1.14, moderate certainty) and H2RAs (RR 0.98, 0.89 to 1.08, moderate certainty) probably have little or no impact on mortality compared with no prophylaxis.
There may be no important difference between PPIs and H2RAs on mortality (RR 1.05, 0.97 to 1.14, low certainty), the 95% credible interval of the complete analysis has not excluded an important increase in mortality with PPIs. Both PPIs (RR 0.46, 0.29 to 0.66) and H2RAs (RR 0.67, 0.48 to 0.94) probably reduce clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding; the magnitude of reduction is probably greater in PPIs than H2RAs (RR 0.69, 0.45 to 0.93), and the difference may be important in higher, but not lower bleeding risk patients. PPIs (RR 1.08, 0.88 to 1.45, low certainty) and H2RAs (RR 1.07, 0.85 to 1.37, low certainty) may have no important impact on pneumonia compared with no prophylaxis.
This updated NMA confirmed that PPIs and H2RAs are most likely to have a similar effect on mortality compared to each other and compared to no prophylaxis; however, the possibility that PPIs may slightly increase mortality cannot be excluded (low certainty evidence). PPIs and H2RAs probably achieve important reductions in clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding; for higher bleeding risk patients, the greater benefit of PPIs over H2RAs may be important. PPIs or H2RAs may not result in important increases in pneumonia but the certainty of evidence is low.