Coventry & Warwickshire

Diabetes specialist issues Ramadan health warning

Community Iftar in Coventry
Image caption Iftar (breaking the day's fast) can be a social event

A diabetes specialist has warned that Muslims fasting for Ramadan could experience health problems this year.

Eating and drinking during daylight is forbidden during Ramadan, which lasts between 15 and 30 days.

This year it is at the height of summer, starting on 1 August, when there are up to 17 hours of daylight.

Dr Vinod Patel, of Nuneaton's George Eliot Hospital, spoke of a "very large problem" of managing diabetes medication during fasting.

The date of Ramadan is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar and each year its dates move, so 2011 is exceptional for having the whole of the fasting period during August in Britain.

Dr Patel said: "It can be a very large problem. In 17 hours of fasting with certain drugs that we use, for example, the dosages have to be changed, the timings have to be changed so that our patients who are observing Ramadan don't end up with problems such as low blood pressure and fainting."

Confusion and collapse

On 18 July the George Elliot Hospital diabetes team, led by Dr Patel, held a clinic to raise awareness of the risks at the Nuneaton Muslim Women's Group.

Dr Patel warned: "The most important problem is hypoglycaemia, that's when the glucose levels drop too much and the patent has confusion, collapse or really extreme hunger with sweating and they need food immediately.

"It's rarely fatal but it would be very distressing for the patient. It's also dangerous if they're driving, for example.

"However, most people who want to fast can do safely as long as they're given timely advice."

A new information pack called The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan was also launched and can be downloaded from the South Asian Health Foundation website.

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