Patients often wonder whether they should limit their intake of vitamin K in food. The reason for this is that vitamin K is involved in the coagulation process. So, it “counteracts” anticoagulants that are vitamin K antagonists (blockers) and can reduce their effect. For this reason, patients used to be advised to avoid foods containing high levels of vitamin K (especially fruits and vegetables). This strict prohibition is now outdated. Today, experts advise a balanced diet. This means a daily diet of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding only foods with extremely high levels of vitamin K.
What is a heart-healthy diet?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through lifestyle choices, including following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
A heart-healthy diet is made up mostly of whole or natural foods (not processed). At the “heart” of it is balance, which includes:
Alcohol can promote coagulation in both healthy individuals and those taking anticoagulants. How much so depends on the quantity. Also, every person’s body reacts differently to alcohol. You can enjoy alcohol, but in moderation. And make sure to monitor how it makes you feel, overall.
Smoking can increase the risk of thrombosis (blood clots) and should be completely avoided. It is also greatly damaging to the cardiovascular system, which may be particularly dangerous for cardiac patients. If, for instance, a second cardiac illness (e.g., coronary heart disease or a heart attack) should occur after a successful valve replacement, the risks of complications are greatly increased. If you smoke, and need help quitting, talk to your doctor.
Self-testing and nutrition
Every person reacts differently to what they eat. As a self-tester, you will be able to keep a close eye on your coagulation levels yourself. This, along with regular INR checks, will give you more insight into your body and coagulation management. With this insight, you can have more flexibility and creativity with your diet, with added security.