Fasting during Ramadan

20th April 2020

This week marks the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth and the most holy month of the Islamic calendar. Cardiomyopathy UK Support Nurse Jayne has written guidance for those who will be fasting during this time.

During the holy month (which this year starts on 23rd April and finishes on 23rd May), adult Muslims are required to refrain from all oral intake of food, drinks and oral medications between dawn and sunset. Children, pregnant women, those with a chronic illness, the sick and the elderly are all exempt from practicing the fast.

However, some patients of the Muslim faith with chronic health conditions insist on fasting despite the above.

The Qu’ran specifically exempts patients with medical conditions whose medical condition could deteriorate due to fasting or where fasting will directly impede them getting better. A patient’s health takes precedence over fasting, but patients can make up missed fasts when their health improves if they wish to.

During a fast, the body generates its own energy by burning stored excess fats, carbohydrates and sugars to produce energy. Blood sugar levels may fall, this can result in irritability, forgetfulness and confusion in some people. The length of the fast can vary from 11 to 18 hours depending on the time of year.

Physical activity has been shown to be markedly restricted during Ramadan, exercise can be done after the evening meal or prior to the morning meal and the physical exertion involved during prayers should be included in the amount of physical activity for the day.

Healthcare professionals will be considerate to people who are eager to fast and be willing to discuss if modifications can be made to your medications. If it is not possible to make any changes and if by fasting you could be putting your health at risk, your clinician will advise you so that you can make an informed decision whether or not to fast. It is important that you speak to your clinician 1 to 2 months prior to fasting to seek advice and guidance in order to ensure that you fast safely. Medications may need to be adjusted slowly over a specific time period in preparation for fasting.

Cardiomyopathy UK nurse Jayne says, “Everyone is unique- even if you have been diagnosed with the same condition you may respond to medications differently to someone you know. Therefore you are advised not to follow the same advice as someone you know with a similar condition to you as you may require more specific management of your condition and your medication regime”.

If you would like to speak to a support nurse our specialist nurses are available to talk to on our helpline 0800 018 1024 Monday – Friday 08.30am-16.30pm.