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According to the Los Angeles Times patients taking warfarin to prevent dangerous blood clots should avoid herbal and dietary supplements because they can change the drug’s effectiveness.

But apparently, they don’t know that. And their doctors may not appreciate the risk, either, according to a presentation this week at the American Heart Assn.’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago.

Researchers from Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City asked 100 people taking warfarin (sold under the brand name Coumadin) about their supplement use. More than two-thirds of them said they used herbal and dietary supplements, and most of them said they didn’t talk to their doctor or a pharmacist before doing so. More than nine out of 10 patients said they’d have no problem telling their doctor about their supplement use, but only one-third said their doctors had asked them about it. Almost half of the patients surveyed said they didn’t think of supplements as drugs, so they didn’t even think about the dangers of a drug interaction.

But they should. Some of the same researchers have previously reported that supplements made with ginseng and green tea extract reduce warfarin’s effectiveness, while ingredients like glucosamine and cranberry boost it, according to this story from Bloomberg News.

Prospective patients who were taking the drug Coumadin would not be a candidate for plastic surgery; however, this article brings up the point that patients do not consider supplements medicine. Many feel that popular routine surgeries like breast augmentation or liposuction are short  procedures and that detailing every medication including over-the-counter drugs is not necessary. Dr. O’Toole explains to his patients that the initial consultation is a medical visit to collect information, including their past health history. Patients must be forthright and truthful to ensure patients satisfaction and safety.


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