Can I fast during Ramadan?

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I have a heart condition and take medication daily. Is it safe for me to fast during Ramadan, and can I change what time I take my medication?

BHF Senior Cardiac nurse Philippa Hobson says:

If you have had a heart attack or procedure such as a stent or bypass surgery, you will have been prescribed regular medication to protect your heart.

Because fasting involves not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, it can interfere with your medication routine. If your medical condition could worsen as a result of fasting during Ramadan, you are not required to fast.

If you’re considering whether fasting is safe, you should check with your GP, pharmacist or specialist. If you take your medication once a day in the morning, you may be able to switch to taking it in the evening when you are eating and drinking. Check with your pharmacist, as some medication should be taken on an empty stomach.

Conditions such as heart failure can worsen if medication is not taken regularly, and your symptoms may become more severe. If you experience fluid building up in the ankles, breathlessness and fatigue, it could be a sign you need to return to your normal medication routine.

If you are fasting while attending cardiac rehabilitation, you may not be allowed to participate in the exercise classes, because you will not have taken your medication as usual, and you may be dehydrated and have low blood sugar levels. Talk to your team as they may be able to adapt your rehabilitation programme.

It’s important to be active and eat healthily during Ramadan. When fasting, it’s tempting to get your calories quickly from fried snacks, sweets and rich traditional dishes. Base your meals on filling, slowly-digested carbohydrates, include plenty of fruit and vegetables, and bake or grill your food instead of frying it.

If you smoke or take other forms of tobacco, consider giving them up. If it’s particularly hot, you will be more prone to dehydration when fasting, so bear this in mind if you restrict fluids as part of your treatment.

Photo of Philippa Hobson Meet the expert

Philippa Hobson is a Senior Cardiac nurse with 31 years' experience. Her background is in cardiac rehab, coronary care and cardiac surgery.

 

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