While the thought of living with warfarin seems daunting at first, many people are able to take warfarin without experiencing problems. Understanding what can affect warfarin and blood clotting, and keeping these in mind in your day to day life, or when planning activities such as travel, will help you to live safely with warfarin.
Know what can affect your INR
If you are taking warfarin, changes to your diet, alcohol intake, illness, other medicines and travel can all affect your INR, and may result in a change to your dose of warfarin.
Limit your alcohol intake
Don’t make major changes to your diet or alcohol intake — consistency is the key. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks per day.
You can eat green leafy vegetables if you are taking warfarin. But it’s important to eat the same amount of these foods each week to help keep your INR stable. This is because green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) are rich in vitamin K, which can affect your INR.
Don’t avoid vitamin K-rich foods completely. Studies show that eating regular, consistent amounts of vitamin K-rich foods is better for maintaining a stable INR, than not eating them at all, or eating varying amounts.
See your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms or if you feel unwell while taking warfarin, even if you don’t think it’s caused by your medicine.
Seek urgent medical advice if you notice:
unusual bruising or bleeding
any unusual symptoms
vomiting or diarrhoea
fever or infection
loss of appetite
yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice).
Check before you start or stop a new medicine
Always check with a health professional before you start or stop taking a new medicine. This is because warfarin interacts with many common medicines including vitamins, prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines. This means that taking one of these medicines could affect the way warfarin works.
Whether you are at home or away on holidays, avoid any activities or sports that put you at risk of injuries or falls that might cause bleeding — or take precautions to limit your risk. For example, if you’re cycling, wear protective clothing such as gloves, cycle helmets, knee padding and non-slip supportive shoes.
Make adjustments around your home to reduce your risk of cuts or injury. For example: