Fish oil is a natural blood thinner and anticoagulant. Similar to prescription medications, the supplement decreases the formation of blood clots. Anticoagulant medications are commonly prescribed to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Still, taking large amounts of the supplement may cause negative side effects. Before taking fish oil supplements, consult with a medical professional to see if the supplement is right for you.
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Fish oil thins blood and prevents platelets from sticking together. Platelets are compounds in blood that clump together when an injury occurs. Blood with high triglycerides is thicker and has a tendency to form additional blood clots. Fish oil also decreases the rate at which triglycerides are made in the liver. Decreased plaque buildup and less hardening of the arteries are other effects of fish oil. To ensure fish oil is working properly, you may need to be tested on a regular basis to check for blood-clotting factors, according to Drugs.com.
Taking fish oil decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Blood clots may become lodged in veins and arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart or to the brain. Some people take aspirin as an anticoagulant. According to MedlinePlus, taking aspirin and fish oil together does not decrease your risk of stroke.
The American Heart Association suggests patients who have coronary heart disease get 1 g of fish oil daily. You may get enough fish oil by eating fatty fish every day. One serving of 3.5 oz. fatty fish has about 1 g of fish oil, depending on the type of fish, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Fatty fish include salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and Atlantic mackerel. However, this regimen may be difficult to follow; if this is the case, taking a daily supplement is suggested. Patients taking 3 g or more of fish oil daily should only do so under the direct care of a doctor.
Fish oil should not be taken in combination with prescription blood thinners. Your blood may take too long to clot if an injury or cut occurs. Excess bleeding may result. Examples of prescription blood thinners are warfarin, clopidogrel, heparin and ticlopidine. According to MayoClinic.com, in rare circumstances bleeding may occur in the brain due to a ruptured artery. The condition, known as a hemorrhagic stroke, is a life-threatening medical emergency.