29 Apr 2018 – 8:07

Chronic patients urged to consult doctor before fasting

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The Peninsula

Doha: With Ramadan approaching, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is urging patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, to speak with their doctor before beginning a fast. Specialists from across the healthcare provider’s network of hospitals say it is imperative that patients seek professional advice before making any changes to their diet and medication regimes.

Dr  Amr Mohammed Elmoheen, Consultant of Emergency Medicine at Hamad General Hospital, says that although patients who take daily medication can often have this safely adjusted, making changes without a doctor’s advice can lead to serious complications. He also urges patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other chronic digestive and stomach conditions to take preventative measures by avoiding large meals, spices and fried and fatty foods, which may trigger symptoms.

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“With Ramadan approaching, we are receiving requests from patients seeking advice about how they can adapt the timing and dosage of their medicine during the fasting period. It is important for patients to talk to their doctor before making any modifications as changes can affect the medicine’s efficacy and the appearance of side effects. Doctors and pharmacists work with patients to help prevent or minimize these effects,” said Dr Elmoheen.

Manal Musallam, Director of Diabetes Education at the National Diabetes Center at Hamad General Hospital says diabetics who choose to fast need to be aware of the potential health risks. She urges patients who plan to fast to talk with their doctors as early as possible before Ramadan begins, saying that while many diabetics can safely fast, modifications to diet, exercise, and medication routines are often required.

According to Dr Amar Salam, Senior Consultant Cardiologist and Head of the Cardiology Department at Al Khor Hospital, while it is necessary for heart patients to speak with their doctor before undertaking a fast, especially for patients who take medication, there is usually no negative effect for most cardiac patients.

“While fasting is not recommended for some heart patients, including those who have recently had a heart attack or heart surgery, and patients who have narrowing or inflammation of the aortic valve, research indicates that fasting is good for the heart. Fasting not only lowers one’s risk for coronary artery disease and diabetes, but it can also cause significant changes in a person’s blood cholesterol levels, increasing HDL-C, the ‘good’ cholesterol by 30 to 40 percent. However, it is important for patients to consult with their doctor, especially patients who take medication and will require timing and dosage modifications, and potentially an alternative medication,” says Dr. Salam.

Dr Salwa Abuyaqoub, a Senior Consultant for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women’s Hospital, stressed the importance of pregnant women speaking with their doctor before deciding to fast. She says that many pregnant women are able to safely fast, but there are exceptions.

HMC has requested patients who are unable to attend their appointment, or can see a change in their schedules as a result of their Ramadan-related commitments, to call Nesma’ak at 16060 so the appointment can be rebooked.