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Mauby and spinach bad for heart disease patients?

8/13/2010

By Kerri Gooding

AFTER a recent health education talk it was discovered that Barbadians need to be more aware of the side effects of their medications and the fact that combining some medications with one’s diet can have a massive impact on the drug’s effectiveness and their quality of health. David Lewis enlightened the Men’s Health Group at Randal Philips Polyclinic about the dangers associated with combining medications and the important concept that diet can affect medications’ performance.

When explaining the effects last evening one medication used to illustrate the point was Warfarin. This medication was widely used amongst the group. It acts to prevent blood clotting and therefore helps the blood thin for reduced pressure in hypertensive patients hence decreasing strain on the heart.

Warfarin is mainly prescribed for heart disease patients. However, it must be understood that because there are a host of medications to treat these chronic diseases one should not consider Warfarin the only effective medication. Lewis told the crowd gathered that sometimes combining medications may either synergise or antagonise the effects of one drug then he further explained his meaning.

The term “synergise” speaks to the fact that when taken together the effect may be greater than if either medication was taken individually. When a patient is initially placed on Warfarin the doctor should provide them with a list of foods and drugs that they should avoid. After contacting some pharmacies around the island it was discovered that some pharmacists assume that the doctors informed the patients filling the prescriptions while few still proceed to educate the patient. In addition to aspirin there are some foods which alone act as blood thinners and hence if consumed while taking Warfarin will only accelerate and intensify the medication’s effects, including garlic which is favoured by the elderly. Then a shocking discovery made was the fact that a popular regional drink was not at the top of or even on some lists in some pharmacists’ minds when questioned. Mauby, unfortunately for those elders prescribed Warfarin, acts just like garlic and should be avoided.

If you use a combination of Warfarin and mauby or garlic or any other synergising agent were you to be wounded you could bleed incessantly. On the other hand, consuming green leafy vegetables such as spinach which contain Vitamin K or using soya antagonise the effects of Warfarin. That is, they counteract the blood thinner’s effects as they are blood clotting agents hence they too should be avoided.

The reason why patients should be aware of these consequences are because they are life saving. One important factor emphasised by most of the pharmacists interviewed and Lewis during his speech was that patients should be consistent with their diets during their blood testing phase. This allows the doctor to properly calculate the necessary dose of Warfarin even in the presence of components which either synergise or antagonise performance effects. The unanimous advice of the pharmacists was to keep diet constant and always make physicians aware of all medications before taking them especially if one is already on some medication.

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