Muslim diabetics who wish to fulfil their religious obligations can now manage their fasting better with a patient information booklet and a unique mobile application.
These tools are part of the MSD Ramadan Hypoglycaemia Campaign 2012 which were launched on 16 July 2012 to help Muslim diabetics monitor and track their blood sugar levels while providing facts and tips to help patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) fast in a safe and healthy manner.
“The booklet, The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan, was first introduced last year and we received very positive feedback about it. Therefore, this year we decided to extend our support by introducing a mobile application with practical features to help our Muslim friends with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said Mr. Ewe Kheng Huat, Managing Director of MSD, during the launch of the booklet and mobile application.
Besides the blood sugar tracker and tips for diabetic management, the MSD Mobile Application also contains a prayer compass and a Ramadan Calendar to document timings for prayer and breaking fast according to the user’s location.
Blood sugar levels can also be keyed and stored, and shared with their healthcare providers during consultations or saved as a PDF and e-mailed to their doctors.
Suitable for all Apple devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), this MSD Mobile Application can be downloaded via iTunes Application Store. It is available in four countries, namely Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates in three languages – English, Bahasa Melayu and Gulf Arabic.
THE DANGER OF HYPOGLYCAEMIA
Professor Dr Nor Azmi, a Senior Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist, who was also present at the launch said, “There is an estimated 1.2 million diabetics in Malaysia with more than half of them unaware that they may be diabetic until they develop one of its serious complications such as blindness, kidney disease, nerve disease, cardiovascular disease or stroke.”
The 3rd National Health & Morbidity Survey in 2006 indicated that the prevalence of diabetes was at an alarming range of 20.8% to 26.2% among those aged 50 to 64. The survey also indicated that the prevalence was significantly higher in urban areas compared to rural areas. The Malay community had the second largest number of diabetics (11.9%).
Fasting for diabetics may be dangerous if not managed carefully, cautions Prof Nor Azmi. In an observational study conducted in five countries, nearly 20% of Muslims with T2DM experienced hypoglycaemia while fasting during Ramadan.
Hypoglycaemia happens when there is a sudden and drastic dip in blood glucose levels, which can cause symptoms of 3 S – sweat, shake, shivers. The patient may grow cold and clammy and go into coma. Long term problems include memory loss and increased risks of heart attacks and heart disease. The condition is most common among elderly patients who live alone.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SAHUR
Many diabetics have a mistaken conception that their blood glucose levels will remain low if they skip sahur, the pre-dawn meal.
“Skipping sahur also means that the morning medication will be skipped. This causes the brain to send signals to the liver to produce sugar to avoid hypoglycaemia. Diabetics who skip sahur are often surprised to find their blood glucose levels are higher than usual!”
When the sugar levels are up, the patient tends to urinate more often. This can result in dehydration because the liquid loss cannot be replenished during fasting.
Hence monitoring and diligence during fasting is essential for diabetics. “Tools such as the booklet and specifically the mobile application are helpful to Muslim diabetics to keep track of their blood sugar levels on a daily basis and at key points throughout the day,” says Prof Nor Azmi.
The application can be downloaded from itunes store for free. Although it is known as the Ramadan, Diabetes and Me, this application is suitable for all diabetes patients and will continue to be available all year round to help diabetics monitor their blood glucose levels on the go.