Nutritionists such as Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a culinary educator in Northern California and the author of “The Veggie Queen,” may regularly tout leafy green vegetables as “ the No. 1 food you can eat regularly to help improve your health, and guard against diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
However, patients who regularly take blood thinners to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) need to be particularly cautious amount eating any foods rich in Vitamin K as the vitamin has been known to interfere with warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), making it far less effective in preventing the clots.
These include kale, spinach. collard greens, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, parsley, and chard. This, however, is not to say that they should avoid Vitamin K altogether, which is needed to not only help blood clot naturally, but plays an important role in bone formation, (possibly) preventing osteoporosis, and serves to convert glucose into glycogen, which is then stored in the liver.
According to government guidelines, adult males need about 120 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K daily, while 90mcg is considered “adequate” for adult women. It should also be noted that certain beverages such as green team cranberry juice and alcohol could increase the effect of warfarin, leading to bleeding problems.
Meanwhile, Brian Gage, MD, MSc, an internist, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and medical director of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Blood Thinner Clinic notes that “Coumadin also interacts with many medicines, including some antibiotics, most antifungal medications, and several statins,”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 900,000 people in the US are diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis each year, resulting in nearly 100,000 deaths.
Although clots forming deep vein thrombosis can form in one or more of the deep veins within your body, they most often arise in the thighs or lower legs, causing warm, red skin, swelling and pain. However, they may also be present without any symptoms.
In either case, DVTs not only cause disruption in circulation, they can be especially dangerous if they “break loose,” and travel to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. In fact, the CDC reports that 25% of patients with pulmonary embolisms experience sudden death without any knowledge that they have one.
Signs of a pulmonary embolism to be aware of include:
- dizziness or fainting
- unexplained or sudden shortness of breath
- rapid pulse
- chest pain or discomfort that gets worse when you take a deep breath or cough
- coughing up blood.
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms seek immediate medical help.
Major risks for developing DVT include an inherited blood disorder, history of deep vein thrombosis, injury from trauma such as injury to a vein, broken bones and or surgery, taking birth control pills, as well as pregnancy and the postpartum period, sitting in one place too long, whether at work or during long periods of time, cancer and cancer treatments, obesity, smoking, being over 60-years old, and central venous catheter for medical treatment
In addition to Coumadin and other anticoagulant medications such as Pradaxa (dabigatran), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), and Eliquis (apixaban), other prescription drugs used to prevent DVT are antiplatelet drugs used t prevent platelets from clumping together and forming a clot.
These include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix (clopidogrel), Effient (prasugrel), and Brilinta (ticagrelor). Although leafy green vegetables have not been found to cause a problem with any of the blood thinners other than warfarin, many of them do not mix well with other herbs and supplements, as well as various other prescription and over-the-counter medications. As a result, it is important to let your doctor know about any other remedies you may be taking before starting a blood thinner.