People with heart problems should take extra precautions while fasting during Ramadan, and consult their cardiologists, particularly in determining the proper timing and dosage of their medications, in order to avoid complications.
Patients should consult their cardiologists on how their medication should be administered during Ramadan. Patients and doctors may have to explore the possibility of substituting ordinary medication with long-lasting ones in order to compensate for the daily 15-hour fasting time.
Fasting has no negative impact on patients with stable heart conditions who have no recurrent symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. In fact, fasting could be beneficial for them. Lower food intake; abstaining from smoking, which will relieve the system of tobacco’s harmful effects; and the stress-reduced atmosphere associated with the Holy Month of Ramadan; will reduce heart disease risk in general, and also have a positive impact on people with heart conditions.
However, fasting could adversely affect patients with the following conditions:
- Heart patients who experience recurrent chest pain
- Patients with heart failure who experience fatigue or lack of energy and shortness of breath, as they need frequent dosages of diuretic medications
- Patients who have suffered heart attacks should not fast within the six weeks following the heart attack
- Open heart surgery patients should not fast within the six weeks following surgery
- Patients where the heart’s aortic valve is narrowed (stenosis) or inflamed
- Heart patients who are on blood thinners or anticoagulants
- Patients on malignant arrhythmia medications
- Patients with heart conditions that require constant professional observation
People with heart problems are advised to eat in small portions, and to avoid fatty and salty foods, as well as large quantities of beverages (which could lead to shortness of breath). Smaller food portions trigger favorable hormonal and metabolic changes which will increase the production of good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. The outcome of these factors will be best if patients manage to reduce weight as a result.
It is also advisable for people to consume four smaller meals instead of two large meals in Ramadan and to maintain physical exercise, even by taking a short walk.
People with heart conditions are advised to seek urgent professional medical advice or dial 999 for HMC’s Ambulance Service if they experience any difficulties or emergencies.