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
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.

Spencer avatar

Ok... I guess I need to come to terms with this.  What should I be eating and/or not eating as an AFib'er?  Note that some options are non-negeotatble: Single Malt Scotch and Meat.  So vegan options are out.  I have reduced my alcohol intake to just 2-drinks per day and often that amount is zero.  I have also vastly reduced coffee intake.  I'm rather fit and eat OK but looking to see if there is something else that I should be doing.  Typical cal intake is 2,000/per day with 147 g in carbs, 42 g in fats, 135 g in protein.  Exercise is 10,000 steps per day with nearly zero other exercise due to my breathlessness.  I end up doing a lot of walking at work or around my flat neighborhood.   Resting HR is 110 with continuous AFib.  I find it easy to take in carbs as I was a runner so my body loves carbs, and find it nearly impossible to get to 135 g of protein.  The drug cocktail I'm taking has just about eliminated my appetite.  

Tinney avatar

How many of you have tried Alternative medicine, now I 'm at the opinion that a good multivitamin and a good daily detox can go a long way when it comes to heart health and perhaps other serious illness, I take one a day multivitamin 65 + proactive and a daily detox. My afib has all but disappeared and my blood pressure is lower, i 'm going to add CoQ10 soon. 

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