Friday May 24, 2024

Patients with heart disease, hypertension may feel better while fasting

By Muhammad Qasim
March 24, 2024
A representational image showing a person feeling chest pains due to a heart disease. — Pexels
A representational image showing a person feeling chest pains due to a heart disease. — Pexels

Rawalpindi : The Islamic fasting regulates the body functions and helps control blood pressure creating a good reason for the patients suffering from heart disease and hypertension to feel better while opting for fasting in the holy month of Ramazan, the only thing they need to care about is their diet at the time of ‘Iftar’ and ‘Sehr’.

Medically, it is proven that the fasting dissolves all unnecessary and unnatural fat deposits in the body reducing the risk factor of heart attack and a number of other diseases provided one avoids heavy intake of fried dishes generally prepared at the time of ‘iftar’. Most of the risk factors for heart diseases and hypertension like high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol can easily be controlled through fasting. Fasting also normalizes body weight and helps control obesity.

Health experts say that fasting in the holy month of Ramazan can be a source of relief for heart patients as it has great physical, spiritual and psychological benefits. It is commonly witnessed that the majority of heart patients and those suffering from hypertension feel a lot better while fasting in Ramazan. However, according to experts, it is a must for heart patients to get advice from their physicians while opting for a month-long fasting.

Studies reveal that smoking, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet (high sugar, high carbohydrate and excess hydrogenated oils) and stress are the main risk factors for heart diseases and heart stroke and according to health experts, these can be avoided while fasting in Ramazan. Fasting brings discipline and contentment and keeps a person away from most of the stresses caused by modern life that result in diseases like high blood pressure and heart attacks.

The patients suffering from heart disease or hypertension while fasting should take moderate quantity of monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, canola oil, various dry fruits such as almond, walnut, peanuts etc but should avoid trans fats found in French fries, chips, crackers, cakes, biscuits, samosas, pakoras, patties, sweets, vanaspati ghee and hydrogenated oils.

Experts say that heart patients should avoid excessive use of beef, vanaspati ghee, margarine, refined flour products, instant rice, potatoes and cream not only in Ramazan but also in routine. Heart patients, after taking advice from their physicians, can replace high carbohydrate, starchy diet with high protein diet including fish and fish oils.

The heart patients while opting for fasting should eat more vegetables especially leafy vegetables and salads. Heart patients should eat fruits but avoid fruit trifles. They should use more lemon. They may use milk and yogurt but without cream. Heart patients should use brown flour bread and simple ‘chapati’ (leaf of bread) instead of ‘parathas’, the fried leaf of bread.

Experts suggest that a heart patient can eat one teaspoonful of honey and few dates daily. Patients of hypertension and heart diseases should use less salt and spices. While fasting, they should take a lot of fluids. Consumption of excessive amounts of food during ‘sehr’ or ‘iftar’ is a dangerous practice. One should have a modest dinner within one-and-a-half hours after ‘iftar’ and should drink as much water as possible between ‘iftar’ and bedtime and at least 3-4 glasses of water at the time of ‘sehr’.

The patients who have angina or had a heart attack in the recent past should decide for themselves whether they can fast or not. Patients with heart diseases and hypertension should avoid unhealthy diet such as deep-fried foods including ‘Samosas’, ‘pakoras’, ‘kachoris’, ‘jalabis’, and ‘parathas’, excessive usage of spices, tea, coffee, cola or other beverages etc because all these foods increase your blood Low Density Lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) which is bad for your health and for your heart.