Upper gastrointestinal (GI) haemorrhage is a common cause for admission to hospital and is associated with a mortality of around 10%. Prompt assessment and resuscitation are vital, as are risk stratification of the severity of bleeding, early involvement of the multidisciplinary team and timely access to endoscopy, preferably within 24 h. The majority of bleeds are due to peptic ulcers for which Helicobacter pylori and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents are the main risk factors. Although proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used before endoscopy, this is controversial. Pre-endoscopic risk stratification with the Glasgow Blatchford score is recommended as is the use of the Rockall score postendoscopy. Endoscopic therapy, with at least two haemostatic modalities, remains the mainstay of treating high-risk lesions and reduces rebleeding rates and mortality. High-dose PPI therapy after endoscopic haemostasis also reduces rebleeding rates and mortality. Variceal oesophageal haemorrhage is associated with a higher rebleeding rate and risk of death. Antibiotics and vasopressin analogues are advised in suspected variceal bleeding; however, endoscopic variceal band ligation remains the haemostatic treatment of choice. Balloon tamponade remains useful in the presence of torrential variceal haemorrhage or when endoscopy fails to secure haemostasis, and can be a bridge to further endoscopic attempts or placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. This review aims to provide an update on the latest evidence-based recommendations for the management of acute upper GI haemorrhage.
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