Updated App for iPhone and iPad helps Coumadin users track Vitamin K

The world’s gone app-happy. It seems there’s an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch app for just about everything these days, even, I’ve just learned, an app to help patients who take blood thinners keep track of their intake of Vitamin K.

For those of us who take Coumadin  (warfarin), Vitamin K is a boogeyman. That’s because K–found principally in dark leafy green vegetables like kale and Swiss chard and spinach that are supposed to be good for us–can inhibit the blood thinning effects of Coumadin.

When I first learned I’d have to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life, I worried incessantly about the K in green vegetables. I imagined little green K monsters coursing through my blood disabling the Coumadin I took to try to keep my blood thin enough to prevent another stroke. I ordered a book called The Coumadin Cookbook–not for the recipes, but for the detailed tables in the back that allowed me to calculate the micrograms of Vitamin K in everything from cucumber (not much) to Swiss chard (a lot). I entered the amounts on a spreadsheet and stuck it on the refrigerator with a magnet.  I pointed to it every now and then, mainly as excuse not to eat the icky collard greens or Brussels sprouts I’d never liked anyway.

I never needed it for much of anything else.

Like many other Coumadin patients, I’d coast for a time snug in my target INR range (measure of blood thinning), until, boom, things started spinning out of control: my INR swung from too low (I worried about another stroke); then too high (I worried about bleeding.) But these wild turnings never seemed related to food. Infections were almost a sure bet to wreak havoc on my INR. Introducing new drugs was often a problem, like antibiotics if I had an infection, or anti-malarials for a trip to the bush.

Perhaps I’m just lucky. Perhaps I don’t like green vegetables enough to make a difference.

But for those who do worry about Vitamin K, the app, by independent developer James Hollender, sure beats a spreadsheet. His Vitamin K 2.4 app allows users to easily find out how much vitamin K there is in over 900 different foods. It’s available now at the itunes app store:  http://bit.ly/qeaNNk