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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 151-170

The Year in “Ramadan Fasting and Health” (2018): A Narrative Review

1 Department of Medicine, Dubai Medical College, Dubai; Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Mediclinic Airport Road Hospital, Abu Dhabi, UAE
2 Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic, Medical International Specialist Center, Dubai, UAE
3 Department of Medicine, Mafraq Hospital, Abu Dhabi, UAE
4 Cardiology Clinic, United Medical Center Dubai, Dubai, UAE
5 Community Awareness Section, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi, UAE
6 Department of Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation; Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell University, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence Address:
Salem A Beshyah
Department of Medicine, Dubai Medical College, Dubai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmbs.ijmbs_77_19

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Introduction: There has been an increased interest in health implications of Ramadan fasting (RF). Materials and Methods: This is a narrative, nonsystematic review of the literature including all relevant full articles in English in three electronic databases (Scopus, PubMed, and Google Scholar). The search term “Ramadan fasting” was used to identify the relevant records to provide a readily comprehensible concise account of the contributions made to research and clinical practice in 1 year (2018). Results: The publications spanned basic, clinical, ethical, professional, and cultural and advocacy facets of the subject. The publications crossed the conventional disciplinary lines and geographical locations and appeared in journals with varying systems of access. Only full-text research articles in English were reviewed. Review articles, news, note items, and correspondence were not included. No formal bibliometric analysis is presented. Emerging concepts are presented under the relevant subheading depending on the available literature. Impact of RF on diabetes control, pregnancy outcome and fetal life, and sports and athletes' well-being received somewhat more prominent coverage by research work published in 2018. Renovascular disease, and risk factors, posttransplant care, and some metabolic concerns for patients with hepatic, renal, and metabolic conditions were covered too. Patterns of use of emergency services during Ramadan and features of some specific medical emergencies were examined by some workers. Most interesting perhaps was the greater focus on documenting the perception, attitudes, and practices of both patients and healthcare professions regarding deciding and acting during Ramadan. Isolated research reports addressed subjects of wide nature from body composition and energy metabolism to smoking, law, music, and history. Conclusions: The volume of scholarly work on Ramadan fasting and health remains modest. Greater improvements in both quality and quantity of research on Ramadan are needed. Most studies indicate that Ramadan fasting is safe in mild and stable medical conditions under normal circumstances. High risk individuals must be identified, evaluated and managed on individual basis. Experiences from epidemiological, observational and experimental studies reviewed in this article should inform patients' and physicians' decisions.

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