Anti-coagulation and Healthy Nutrition

Anti-coagulation and Healthy Nutrition

Some foods — even healthy ones — can make certain anticoagulants less effective. Healthy eating is critical for everyone. But those living with Atrial Fibrillation who have been prescribed the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin) should be aware that it can become less effective when foods are consumed that are high in vitamin K. These dietary modifications are not an issue with the NOACs because they work by a different mechanism and do not generally have food interactions.

Vegetables and fruits are still important to your nutrition.

Don’t believe the myth that people on anticoagulant medication need to avoid fruits and vegetables. It’s not true; rather, it’s time to find out which of your favorite fruits and vegetables are low in vitamin K.

Eliminate or regulate?

Eating high levels of foods high in vitamin K, such as avocado, spinach, kale, and broccoli, can counteract the medication’s effectiveness. However, your doctor may recommend that rather than eliminating these healthy foods from your diet, you eat consistent amounts of these foods each day and have your warfarin dosage adjusted to take that into consideration.

Attend to your general heart health, too.

Although good nutrition usually doesn’t stop or reverse AFib, it can reverse or improve many heart-related conditions and the need for additional medication. Problems like high blood pressure, vascular disease, and diabetes are all conditions that can improve with good nutrition. In addition, these conditions can increase your risk for stroke which, when combined with any risks due to AFib, provides a strong incentive to remain in the very best heart-healthy condition possible.

Food isn’t the only thing to be cautious of when taking warfarin for anticoagulation. You’ll need to exercise caution with antibiotics, common pain relievers, cold and allergy medications, and over-the-counter diet aids if you're on warfarin. Vitamin supplements can also disrupt a carefully balanced dosage of medication. If you take these, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

Anti-coagulation and Healthy Nutrition

Other risks that are sometimes relevant

Alcohol: Other consumables, such as alcohol, can also have an impact on medications because they can change the liver’s ability to filter medication from the body.

Sodium: And even simple things like salt, which is widespread in the food supply can take a toll because it increases the amount of fluid retained in the body, sometimes rendering the medication dose inadequate.

Keep Your Doctors and Pharmacists in the Loop

The key for cardiovascular disease patients is to be aware of the risks and maintain regular communication with healthcare providers and labs. When picking up prescriptions or over-the-counter medication, check with the pharmacist to make sure there aren’t any negative interactions. Maintaining a healthy eating pattern, and eating the right amounts for your activity level, is also important. Be extra cautious around the holidays or during other celebrations when eating habits tend to change.

You may want to use our food tracker to help you share any dietary concerns you have with your healthcare providers.

Enjoy your best nutrition for a long and healthy life!

Recent Discussions From The Nutrition & Dining Forum
sangre avatar

Hello everybody! 

In the last years I have been through some heart issues and I wanted to improve my diet in a way where my heart would be benefited from it.  I am from Spain, and in some of the natural blogs here (example: Superalimentos24) they state that a plant called Moringa has a cardioprotective benefit when taking it on a regular basis.

This plant is very inexpensive to buy in my country, but before I start taking it, I would like to maybe hear the opinion of the community or of an expert who could guide me into the right direction.

Thank you very much in advanced & best regards

StuMan avatar

I had read that chocolate could be helpful in reducing Afib experience and thought I would experiment.

Background: I am a 61 year old somewhat skinny, healthy racquetball player.  I have had 5 Afib experiences between 2016 and April 2017.  After the last experience I decided to drink hot cocoa once a day.  Since I don't want to intake sugar I use stevia as a sweetener; and I use goat milk instead of cow's milk (since I have a cow's milk allergy).  I take 1.5 teaspoons unseetened cocoa powder in a large mug  (50/50 milk and water mix) which I drink every morning.  Anecdotally I have not had an Afib experience since.  Maybe coincidence, maybe not.  


I do not take any drugs and am vary wary of oblation.  My doctor says I would be a good candidate.  She also wants me to take drugs.  I do neither and feel completely normal now.  She wanted me to think of AFib as a "friend" that I would have to get to know.  Jesus!!  Are cardiologists really worth an average salary of $400,000 a year with advice like this?  Obviously Afib is not serious for me right ow and maybe it will return.  So far so good.  I do NOT want to take blood thinners.  She said internal bleeding is a normal side effect.  Well it is not normal for me.  And I do not want to make it normal

Oceanside avatar

I want to share with you how my electrophysiologist changed my life. After my diagnosis, following an ep study, she recommended I start on a plant based diet. She recommended I watch a movie called Forks over Knives which is an amazing documentary about heart disease, diabetes etc and the links to our western diet. She gave me two websites. Nutrition facts.org and nutrition studies.com as two great resources. Also, The book, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman who has a similar meal plan which is a little more forgiving if you can’t be totally plant based. 
I embraced the diet, lost 40 pounds over 8 months. My blood pressure is now normal with no more medication. I no longer have to take flecanide for arrhythmia or diltiazam for rate control. I have had no afib for 9 months and I was having two hour episodes every two months! I wear an Apple Watch and use the Kardia device with my iPhone to take ecgs regularly to keep track. This way of eating can reverse type two diabetes and reverse arteriosclerosis (blocked arteries).  Please check it out. I didn’t like the medications and how they affected me. I do continue with eliquis because I am a female and over 65. But, if I continue afib free for over a year, I will ask my doctor if I can go off blood thinner.  I hope you can feel better, but sometimes we have to look to ourselves and change our lifestyle. It was hard for me to give up caffeine, dairy,most alcohol and sugar, processed foods etc. But, at the end of the day I feel better, no afib for now and I believe my disease is not progressing and may be reversing. Best to you.

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