Hypertension is called the silent killer because patients with high blood pressure may have no symptoms for years. Although it is a prevailing and widespread disease, many people are unaware that they have this condition unless they experience symptoms such as headaches or have had permanent damage to the heart, kidneys or arteries.
Most medical studies have shown that patients with hypertension can complete their fast if they have no complications or other medical problems. If you have high blood pressure and wish to fast, fasting will not have a negative impact on your blood pressure balance.
Here are some tips and advice to follow during Ramadan:
- Consult your physician to assess your health, determine whether or not you are allowed to fast, make any necessary adjustments to your medication dosages and determine the best time to take them between Iftar and Suhour. Your doctor can also determine if you need long-acting antihypertensive drugs that can be taken at night, once or twice a day, without affecting your fast.
- Drink plenty of fluids and unsweetened natural juices at Iftar to avoid thirst, dehydration and other associated complications.
- Make fruit and vegetables an essential part of your Ramadan meals as they are an important source of potassium that helps control high blood pressure.
- Avoid high-fat dishes and fluids.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and caffeinated soft drinks to reduce the intake of caffeine.
- Stay away from high sodium foods such as salted nuts and pickles which can lead to hypertension, and replace them with a fresh green salad.
- Eat grilled fish at least twice a week, as it contains a healthy fat called Omega-3 which helps regulate blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Good sources of Omega-3 include salmon and sardines.
- Consume red meat and poultry in moderation.
- Eat low-fat dairy products because calcium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and improving bone health.
- Avoid processed meat and cheese such as sausages and mortadella as they contain high concentrations of sodium.
- Be aware of hypertension warning signs such as dizziness and headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical services right away or consult your physician immediately.
- Measure your blood pressure regularly.
- Continue exercising during Ramadan as it helps regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown that physical activity performed by Muslims during the Taraweeh prayers helps reduce high blood pressure.
- Patients suffering from special medical problems should consult their physician before making the decision to increase their physical activity during Ramadan.
- Patients with hypertension should consider Ramadan a golden opportunity to quit smoking as it raises the systolic pressure by at least 20 mm Hg, and significantly increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Ramadan is a good opportunity to gradually lose weight. Studies have shown that weight loss, even at just five percent of body weight, helps normalize blood pressure in Ramadan.
Mrs. Duaa Abu El Sheikh,
Health Educator, Health Education Programs
Ministry of Public Health