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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 11 (1997), Issue 4, Pages 313-316
Clinical Gastroenterology

Duodenal Ulcer and Helicobacter pylori Infection at High Altitude: Experience from Southern Saudi Arabia

M El Bagir K Ahmed, BA Al-Knawy, AH Al-Wabel, and AK Foli

Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Abha, Saudi Arabia

Received 4 June 1996; Accepted 10 October 1996

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To study the clinical presentation, endoscopic features and prevalence of Helicobacter pylori in duodenal ulcer (DU) patients in southern Saudi Arabia, located 3150 m above sea level, and to compare results with those from low altitude regions of the Kingdom.

METHODS: Prospective study of patients with proven DU referred for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy at Asir Central Hospital, Abha, southern Saudi Arabia over an 18-month period.

RESULTS: Of 126 patients with proven DU, 72% were men and mean age was 40.4 years (range 18 to 68). Twenty-eight per cent were smokers and only 5% used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Thirty-eight patients (30%) presented with hematemesis or melena, and the majority had a single ulcer. Nineteen per cent of patients with dyspepsia had DU and 96% had H pylori. These results are comparable with those reported from the low altitude, warmer regions of Saudi Arabia.

CONCLUSIONS: Age of patients and the male:female ratio were similar to those in developing countries. The frequency of smoking is lower than in western countries and no patient in this report consumed alcohol. High altitude did not affect the prevalence of DU or the frequency of H pylori because the results were comparable with those from the low altitude areas of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other lowland developing countries. Although great socioeconomic changes have increased the incidence of heart disease, the patterns of DU and H pylori infection assume those in developing nations.