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Monday, April 25, 2016

Coumadin Causes Coronary Calcification?

People who take the blood thinning agent Coumadin (warfarin) are especially prone to atherosclerosis. It's a good idea to ask if you can get the same results from a different drug.

Millions of people with blood clotting disorders are on a medication called Coumadin, also known as warfarin. Coumadin works by interfering with the activity of vitamin K1, which is involved in the blood clotting process. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy greens. Doctors used to tell patients who were on Coumadin just to avoid green vegetables, but dietary deficiencies resulted. Now doctors are more likely to tell patients to eat the same amount of green vegetables consistently, so they get other nutrients, and Coumadin dosage can be adjusted for the extra K1.

Vitamin K, however, doesn't just come as vitamin K1. There's also a vitamin K2. This form of the vitamin isn't found in green vegetables. It's most abundant in a fermented soy food called natto (which is something of an acquired taste for most of us), and in eggs and dairy products from chickens and cows fed green grass. Vitamin K2 is important in transporting calcium. It directs calcium into bones rather than into lesions in the linings of your arteries. If you don't get enough vitamin K2, you will get atherosclerosis--and most people who are on Coumadin do.

The problem with K2 is that it also affects the clotting process. If you shouldn't take K1, you probably shouldn't take K2, and the safety of K2 is still being established. That's why it's healthier for most people who need anticoagulants to get a different drug that doesn't involve vitamin K (such as Brilinta or Xarelto), which allow you to both forms of vitamin K for cardiovascular health. You may not need to start eating French butter and free range eggs, but if you don't take Coumadin, you can probably take a vitamin K2 supplement that has the same benefits for your cardiovascular health.

Don't stop Coumadin except under doctor's supervision.

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