- We analyzed 321 consecutive episodes of community-based acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding admitted to the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem during 1988-91. Of these 71% were in males aged 56.2 +/- 1.2 years (mean +/- SE) and 29% were in females (67.9 +/- 1.7 years, P < 0.001). The main diagnoses were duodenal ulcer (39.5%), gastric ulcer (16.9%), esophageal varices (10.0%), erosive gastritis (8.2%) and esophagitis (7.5%). The distribution of these diagnoses differed significantly between the genders (P = 0.0003). In males the prevalence of duodenal ulcer and of esophageal varices was higher, and that of gastric ulcer and esophagitis lower, than in females. Gastric ulcer patients were oldest, were the least likely to have received anti-ulcer medications prior to admission, and had the highest levels of urea and the lowest levels of hemoglobin on admission. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increased significantly with age and was reported in 35% of the cases (aspirin in doses < 1.0 g/day in 21%, nonsalicylate anti-inflammatory agents in 11%, aspirin plus other anti-inflammatory drugs in 3%). Use of systemic corticosteroids was reported in 4%. The most distinctive features of the population with acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding in the present study compared to other series were the significantly higher proportion of duodenal ulcers and the lower proportion of Mallory-Weiss tears.