Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a tool named ‘Fasting Algorithm for Singaporeans with Type 2 Diabetes’ (FAST) to help Muslims with type 2 diabetes can have better control of their blood sugar levels during Ramadan fasting.
With FAST, Patients will be able to monitor and control their blood sugar level, so that they can fast safely. It also provides them with Ramadan-specific education materials which includes guides on adjusting diet and lifestyle while fasting, as well as a medication dosage modification guide for patients and their doctors.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from drinking and eating from dawn to dusk. This fasting is challenging for those with diabetes as it increases the risk of hypoglycaemia – a condition where the blood sugar level becomes abnormally low. In worsening situations, this may lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, or even death.
NUS researchers noted that severe hyperglycaemia may arise from the over-consumption of food containing carbohydrates, especially when Muslim break fast in the evening,. This could cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, heart and eyes.
“Muslims with diabetes are encouraged to actively monitor their blood glucose levels before, during and after fasting so that they can make informed decisions on their self-care such as making adjustments to their diet or doing light exercises,” shared NUS Pharmacy doctoral student Lum Zheng Kang, who is the co-investigator of the study.
"Using FAST, they are also empowered to adjust the dosage of their diabetes medications based on its guidance and in close consultation with their doctors."
Moving forward, the NUS team will be working on a mobile application version of the tool for people with diabetes, to make it more convenient for patients to utilise. In addition, the researchers plan to transform FAST into a user-friendly technological tool that can be accessed via electronic medical records. This could be used to guide healthcare providers in adjusting medication dosages for people with diabetes during the Ramadan fasting period.