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Fasting could raise blood pressure in hypertensive people, doctor says

Stresses need to check BP before and after meal to determine issues

Gulf News

Dubai: As a majority of the UAE population suffers from hypertension, a heart doctor has warned that fasting could shoot up their blood pressure (BP) even higher.

He said besides these high risk people, smokers, diabetics and those with a family history of hypertension should check with their GP whether it is safe for them to fast.

The blood pressure of these people will shoot up at iftar time when they eat sweets and salty foods, said Dr Ahmad Gabroun, specialist cardiologist, Canadian hospital.

He said hypertensive patients on medication should check with their doctors to make any special adjustments to their diet during Ramadan. They need to check their blood pressure before a meal and after to see whether there are any issues, he said.

The normal blood pressure reading is 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. Systolic refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic is when the heart is at rest between beats.

The cardiologist said that a BP reading of more than 130/90mmHg means the person is at risk and there is a need to see a doctor. "Unfortunately, there is no cure for high blood pressure."

Hypertension is "silent killer", he said. Usually one gets a headache, eye pain, or weakness and fatigue. "People tend to take a pain killer and ignore it," said the heart doctor.

Cutting down salt is vital to people with high BP, the doctor said. But he notes that the salt which we add into our food at the dinner table is not the culprit. The salt which comes from processed foods, canned foods, junk foods and fried potato chips are the killer, he said.

"Food without salt has no taste, but you have to monitor your salt intake as it precipitates a heart attack. It aggravates your condition."

He also advised against drinking excess of tea and coffee during the social gatherings at iftar time as it is also bad for hypertensive people.

Dr Gabroun recommends lifestyle changes and regular exercise to keep high BP under check. "Exercise is like re-booting your body", he said. "The lungs and heart act together. The sweating changes the fluids in your body. One gets fresh oxygen."

"If you go into the street and randomly check the blood pressure of 100 people you will find that 30 per cent are hypertensive. Many people do not know they have high blood pressure. It can be controlled, but they are unaware of their condition. It's the iceberg phenomena. " said the heart doctor.

In numbers

  • 120/80mmHG is normal blood pressure.
  • 120-139/80-89mmHg is pre-hypertension.
  • High BP can damage your heart, brain and other vital organs.