Does Alcohol Affect Warfarin?
There are so many medicines that are commonly taken by people, many of which are used in the long-term for a chronic condition. One such medicine is Warfarin, which is classified as an anticoagulant. When you’re taking a medicine like Warfarin, there are possible side effects and also interactions with other substances that can occur.
For example, what about alcohol and Warfarin? Does alcohol affect Warfarin?
The following provides an overview of what Warfarin is and what it does, and also answers the question “does alcohol affect Warfarin.”
As was touched on above, Warfarin is an anticoagulant, and it slows blood clotting. Blood clots can cause blockages of the veins, heart attack, and stroke. Warfarin is prescribed for use by people who may be at risk of developing blood clots, including people with deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
When someone does develop blood clots and they break loose, it can travel through the bloodstream and block a vessel somewhere else, such as in the lungs or the kidneys. If there’s a clot causing a blockage in the brain, it can lead to a stroke.
Warfarin prevents blood clotting by slowing down the body’s production of vitamin K, which is what allows blood to clot. When someone takes Warfarin, it allows blood to flow more efficiently through the body, and it reduces the risk of clotting in the blood vessels or the heart.
While Warfarin has a lot of clinical benefits, it’s not without risks and the possibility of interactions, as with any medicine. For example, people on Warfarin are advised against eating foods high in vitamin K which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and leafy green vegetables. There are also many herbal supplements that are believed to interfere with the medicine, and they can change how effective or ineffective Warfarin is.
Some of the many supplements that may interfere with the effectiveness of warfarin include St. Johns Wort, green tea, ginseng, fish oil, feverfew, coenzyme Q10 and gingko biloba.
Along with the herbal supplements that may interact with warfarin, many other medicines can as well. Some of these include acetaminophen, antibiotics, antidepressants, antifungals and lipid-lowering medicines.
People are advised to avoid cranberry products when on warfarin, and even common foods such as avocado can change how warfarin works.
You should also keep a check on any unusual bleeding such as nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums and speak to your doctor if you notice anything like this.
So, since it is a drug with many potential interactions, what about alcohol and warfarin? Does alcohol affect warfarin?
There aren’t specific guidelines recommending against the combination of alcohol and warfarin, but there are still some things to be aware of. First, if you have a history of liver or kidney problems, you’re advised not to take warfarin, and this is something that’s common with people who drink heavily. Also, if you combine alcohol and warfarin, it can slow down the efficiency of your body breaking down warfarin, which can lead to a buildup of the medicine in your body. If you have liver disease, this risk is even higher. When warfarin builds in your body, it can increase the effects too much.
Alcohol can also lead to your body making fewer platelets than it normally would, and platelets are responsible for blood clotting. Warfarin does something similar, so if you drink alcohol and take Warfarin, you may be at risk of major bleeding.
Alcohol can also increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis in certain situations, based on factors such as how much or how often you drink.
If you do decide to combine alcohol and warfarin, you should first speak to your doctor, and you should also make sure you don’t drink too much. The recommendations for maximum alcohol intake for people on warfarin is to drink fewer than 14 units a week, for men and women, and to make sure you know what’s considered a serving size. It’s better to spread your drinking out as opposed to binge drinking as well.
To conclude, does alcohol affect warfarin?
If you’re a moderate drinker, you should be okay in terms of alcohol and warfarin, although this is something you should speak with your doctor about. There is a chance that drinking alcohol and taking warfarin could make it more difficult for your body to break the drug down, and that could lead to it building up in your system, particularly if you have liver disease.
If you want to avoid this risk, ensure that you control your drinking. Also, alcohol can reduce the number of platelets your body makes, so be aware of this as well.
In general, moderate drinking may be okay while on warfarin, if you speak with your doctor first.
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