Fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to modify certain cardiovascular risk factors. Patients who have stable chronic heart disease can fast if they are asymptomatic. If the patient is experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, the recommendation is to seek medical advice. Patients with heart diseases who decide to fast need to consult with their cardiologist to adjust timing and doses of their cardiac medications.
Advantages of fasting during Ramadan
Fasting during Ramadan is also an opportunity to lose weight, lower blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, lower blood sugar, modify stress, anxiety and to quit smoking. The major cardiovascular risk factors that lead to heart attacks and strokes are smoking, hypertension, high lipid, diabetes and positive family history.
Who can fast?
There are certain cardiac patients for whom fasting is not recommended, such as those with Type I Diabetes (diabetics who are insulin-dependent), heart patients on anticoagulation, heart patients on antiarrhythmic treatment, open-heart surgery patients, patients with severe heart valve disease, patients after a heart attack within 6 weeks, heart transplant patients, heart patients with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling and uncontrolled congestive heart failure patients. Patients with chronic stable heart patients with no symptoms are advised to consult with their cardiologists to adjust the timing and dosages of their cardiac medications during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Below are a few cardiac recommendations for patients who are fasting:
- Take Ramadan as an opportunity to modify your risk factors.
- Eat healthy recommend 4 small meals (rich in water, fruits, vegetables) and not heavy, fatty, salty meals.
- Avoid sweets. Eat 3-4 dates during Iftar and start with salads prior to the main meal.
- During Iftar try to have one main meal.
- For Souhour have a light meal of fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and consume it 30-60 minutes before Azan.
- Pick healthy soups such as vegetable grain-based soups over the creamy versions.
- Maintain good hydration.
- Maintain an exercise programme, with not less than 10,000 steps per day.
Dr. Mazin Chaheen