Information for the public

Treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding

Treating upper gastrointestinal bleeding

Some treatments may not be suitable for you, depending on your exact circumstances. If you have questions about specific treatments and options, please talk to a member of your healthcare team.

Initial treatment

The aim of initial treatment is to stabilise the patient. Patients who have lost a lot of blood may need a blood transfusion straightaway. As well as a blood transfusion, you might also be treated with drugs called 'clotting factors' that control bleeding.

While your bleeding is being controlled and your blood levels are being brought back to normal, your healthcare team will look at other drugs you might be taking.

If you are taking warfarin (a drug that stops the blood from clotting), and the bleeding hasn't stopped, you should be offered a treatment called prothrombin complex. This medication is given through a drip, to help your blood clot normally again.

Medicines that you may be taking for other conditions can affect your blood's ability to clot. If you have had angina, a heart attack or stroke, you may already be taking low-dose aspirin. NICE has said that you can continue to take low-dose aspirin if your bleeding has stopped. If you are taking a drug called clopidogrel, your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of continuing this treatment with you and your cardiology or stroke specialist. If you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) to treat inflammation and pain (for example, if you have arthritis), treatment should be stopped while you are bleeding.

Questions to ask about initial treatment

  • Please tell me what the initial treatment involves.

  • Why have you offered this particular type of treatment?

  • What are the pros and cons of having this treatment?

  • What are the next steps?

  • Information Standard