Ramadan fasting does not alter cardiac autonomic nervous activity: Lebanon study
Intermittent fasting, as practiced by Muslims worldwide during Ramadan, is safe and does not interfere with the autonomic nervous activity of the heart, according to the results of a Lebanon study.
The authors assessed the effect of Ramadan fasting on the heart rate variability, an indirect measure of cardiac sympathetic stress. Eighty healthy Lebanese females aged 18–25 years monitored for 24 hours when following normal routine were included in the analysis. Thirty-eight and 42 females were enrolled before and during Ramadan, respectively.
Intermittent fasting showed no effect on heart rate variability. The change in heart rate variability between the first and last weeks of Ramadan was not significant (p>0.05).
Morning fasting was the least stressful period (p<0.001), with lower heart rate compared with nonfasting day (p<0.001). Consequently, intermittent fasting did not alter the cardiac autonomic nervous system function, nor the levels of heart rate variability.
A meta-analysis of 15 studies with outcomes on stroke, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure revealed that the incidence of cardiovascular events during the Ramadan fast was comparable to the nonfasting period. Ramadan fasting was not associated with any change in incidence of acute cardiovascular disease. [J Family Community Med 2016;23:73–81]
“Intermittent fasting is an annual religious practice of Muslims worldwide, which affects the physiology of the body due to lifestyle alterations,” the authors of the current study said.