Fasting During Ramadan

News 09 March 2024

This week sees 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 10th March 2024 and finishes on 8th April 2024), 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 exempt from practicing the fast.

However, some patients of the Muslim faith with chronic health conditions understandably wish to observe their fast.

The Qur’an 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 and they 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 understand your desire to fast and be willing to discuss if temporary alterations could be made to your medication timings. If by fasting you could be putting your health at risk your clinician will advise you accordingly so that you can make an informed decision whether to fast. It is important that you speak to your cardiologist, cardiac specialist nurse or GP prior to fasting to seek advice and guidance in order to ensure that you fast safely. Medication timings 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 fasting differently to someone you know. Therefore you are advised not to follow the same clinical advice as someone you know with the same type of cardiomyopathy to you, your clinical team are best placed to advise you about your cardiomyopathy”.

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