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Fasting without cardiac concerns

Fasting without cardiac concerns

Dr Mustapha Shaaraoui,

Consultant Cardiologist, American

Hospital Dubai, offers advice to

heart patients

Patients must adhere to fluid and salt restrictions, as having liberal salt and fluid intake was associated with worsening symptoms.

Ramadan fasting

is safe for most

patients with

chronic heart failure,” says

Dr Mustapha Shaaraoui,

Consultant Cardiologist

and Consultant Cardiac

Electrophysiologist at

American Hospital Dubai.

He cites a study of 249 patients

with heart failure,

which showed that fasting

during Ramadan was associated

with no changes or

improvement in symptoms

in 92 per cent of patients.

“Patients must adhere to

fluid and salt restrictions,

as having liberal salt and

fluid intake was associated

with worsening symptoms.”

One challenge for heart

patients can be the lavish iftar

buffets, which are often

loaded with food that might

contain high salt content.

“Equally detrimental, they

tend to drink a lot of fluids

within a short period time,

a difficult task for their

weakened heart to handle.

Patients should seek help

if they develop worsening

symptoms of heart failure

such as shortness of breath,

ankle swelling and fatigue.”

Some patients experience

difficulty taking their medicine,

especially if it’s to be

taken more than once daily,

he says. Others may reduce

their use of diuretics as they

are afraid of being thirsty

during long fasting hours.

“Patients are advised

not to omit any drugs prior

to consulting their cardiologist,”

explains Dr

Shaaraoui. “Whenever possible,

the physician should

try to simplify the medical

regimen and adjust diuretic

regimen to fasting hours.”

Fasting could be beneficial

for patients with stable

heart conditions who have

no active symptoms such as

chest pain or shortness of

breath, says Dr Shaaraoui.

“The benefits might be related

to smoking cessation,

weight loss with reduced

food intake and heightened

spiritual involvement,

which might help reduce

stress and lower blood pressure during Ramadan.”

However, fasting is not

advised for patients with active

chest pain, uncontrolled

heart failure symptoms, uncontrolled

blood pressure,

severe valve disease, anyone

with dangerous rhythm

problems, or those who have

had a recent heart surgery

or suffered a heart attack.

“Patients who are on a twice

daily blood thinning regimen

should be switched to

once daily regimen if feasible.

Otherwise, they cannot

fast, especially if it is a long

fasting day of 15 hours.”