The aim of this study was to determine the age-related characteristics of peptic-ulcer patients. A total of 125 consecutive patients (63 men and 62 women) with peptic ulcer were studied prospectively. The ulcers were diagnosed at endoscopy. The mean age of patients was 62 years (57 years in men and 68 in women). Patients were asked about their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The main symptom, the duration of symptoms, the ulcer location and size, and the presence of Helicobacter pylori (HP) from the histologic specimen were recorded. Ulcer complications such as bleeding or perforation were also noted. These parameters were compared in two age groups: 65 years or under (n = 65) and over 65 years (n = 60). In the older age group, duodenal ulcer was less common (42 vs. 66%, p = 0.008) and typical epigastric pain was rare (35 vs. 91 %, p < 0.001). Ulcer bleeding was present more commonly in the older age group (50 vs. 14%, p < 0.001). The duration of symptoms was shortest in patients who used NSAIDs, especially among older patients. Elderly patients also had an atypical location more often (39 vs. 15%, p = 0.003). After adjustment for use of NSAIDs, these characteristics remained among the elderly. The presence of HP was less common in the older age group (56 vs. 92%, p < 0.001). Furthermore, in the group of elderly patients who did not use NSAIDs, 35% were HP-negative. In conclusion, the presentation of peptic ulcer in the elderly has distinct characteristics, which are not entirely related to the use of NSAIDs.

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