LVAD, nutrition and blood thinners

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​The picture of me in the hospital if from my operation, early 2017 – and no re-admission since

Healthy eating is a good idea for everyone but it is even more important for people living with a heart pump.

My pump is the Left Ventricular Assist Device or LVAD. It is the latest, Heartmate3 by Thoratec (now Abbott). So far, it’s proven to be the best in its class. I have to follow a good Heart Failure nutrition therapy which primarily involved – Limiting my salt intake and Restricting the amount of fluid I take in.

Nutrition – LVAD heart pump implantation

Because of the pump location inside the body, right after the implant, I couldn’t really eat solids. My appetite was reduced but over time, this has improved. I first started by eating smaller meals throughout the day. Until my appetite returned (about 6 weeks post-op) and my diet was often supplemented by high-calorie or high-protein liquid beverages. I loved those smoothies and milkshakes!

(Photos of me – LVAD operation, January 2017)

Nutrition – PT INR and Anticoagulants

​As part of my LVAD therapy, I need to take blood-thinning medications (or anticoagulants). This is to reduce the risk of thrombosis (blood clotting). And, when it comes to nutritional precautions, certain foods can influence the effects of these medications.

Foods high in Vitamin K such as dark green leave vegetables, avocado, and asparagus can decrease the effectiveness of blood thinners. Juices like cranberry juice can increase the effectiveness of the anticoagulant and cause the blood to be too thin (So does alcohol which luckily I’ve never drunk). Another major precaution is being consistent – I have to eat about the same amount of vitamin K foods different days of the ways. Lastly, I actively work with my nutritionist/dietician and medical teams to adjust and adapt my dietary plan over time.

Our firstborn doing daddy’s blood test.
​He takes ownership and does his job with much seriousness and pride. Very grateful dad, I am. 

PT INR Home testing

A few weeks ago, my LVAD clinic team started trusting me with doing my own PT INR blood test at home. Doing the test at home saves me weekly trips to the blood lab along with much time and money. With the Anticoagulation pharmacists, we keep the device calibrated. I communicate my weekly results through an App on my phone. And when my results fall out of range, we make quick adjustments as needed. So far, with the great help of my boy, we’re doing good. And we’re making the most of the extra time with our family and friends.

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