New Study Highlights Need For Chronically Ill To Manage Behavior With Their Doctor
A new study by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has revealed that 49% of people fasting during the holy month of Ramadan in the UAE seek advice from their doctor for a range of medical issues.
The survey, conducted in the lead up to Ramadan, found that diet, physical activity, medication and fasting with chronic illnesses were the top four concerns people discussed with their doctors before the holy month began.
While fasting during Ramadan can be a natural and effective way for healthy people to detox their bodies, physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi advise people with chronic illnesses to seek advice from their doctor before deciding to fast during Ramadan.
According to Dr. Feras Bader, a Cardiologist in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Heart & Vascular Institute, patients with cardiac disease need to be careful if they choose to fast during Ramadan.
“We recommend that patients with serious heart conditions speak to a doctor before Ramadan, particularly if they have symptoms that include chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and being short of breath,” said Dr. Bader. “Other risky conditions include heart failure, patients who have recently undergone open-heart surgery or had a heart attack, and pulmonary hypertension.”
Hydration is key for kidney patients who are fasting, says Dr. Zaki Almallah, a staff physician in Urology in the Surgical Subspecialties Institute. However, he added that patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) should seek their doctor’s advice before deciding to fast during Ramadan.
“For healthy people who are fasting, they should be aware of the risk of kidney stones, especially as Ramadan falls during the summer this year,” said Dr. Almallah. “Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi witnessed a rise in people seeking treatment for kidney stones during Ramadan last year because they were not drinking enough water.
“For people with CKD, it is extremely important that they take a range of precautions if they are fasting. Depending on the severity of their CKD, some people may be advised by their doctor to not fast. But for those who can, they should follow their doctor’s advice as the biggest concern is dehydration because this can cause further damage to their kidneys.”
Multiple Sclerosis patients
According to Dr. Victoria Mifsud, a Staff Physician in the Neurological Institute, fasting is safe for most stable multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. However, they will need to consider their medications and carefully plan how to adjust their dosage regimens.
“It is also important to note that your MS symptoms may seem to increase during fasting, especially dizziness and fatigue due to dehydration,” said Dr. Mifsud, who heads the hospital’s Multiple Sclerosis Program. “Also, it is more difficult to fast if MS patients have higher levels of physical impairment because immobility and other issues make them more prone to, for instance, constipation, spasticity and urinary tract infections.
“If the decision is taken to fast, you should closely monitor any new MS symptoms and seek medical advice if symptoms do occur,” she added.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Ramadan study, which was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the multispecialty hospital from April 25 to May 2, 2018, surveyed 1,008 people in the UAE.
5 Top Tips
- Seek your doctor’s advice before deciding to fast and how to manage your medications;
- Ensure you follow a healthy diet that is low in sodium, and does not include processed or fried foods;
- Avoid sugary drinks and diuretics such as coffee and tea;
- If your symptoms are worsening, seek medical attention immediately;
- Ensure you get plenty of rest and sleep.