Dehydration as a result of fasting raises risks of heart attacks caused by nicotine-induced coronary spasms
The effects of smoking shisha (or a water pipe) are much worse during Ramadan due to dehydration caused by daily fasting periods that Muslims endure, according to Dr. Ghania Slimani, cardiology specialist at Health Shield Medical Center.
While it is banned at iftar, many restaurants and Ramadan tents serve shisha at suhoor until about 3am, during which guests spend longer than usual smoking.
“When you’re fasting, the body is dehydrated and in need of oxygen and glucose, therefore, becoming more responsive to the deleterious effects of tobacco. The blood becomes thicker and there is a higher risk of clotting,” said Dr. Slimani.
“Blood pressure increases, and heart beats become irregular leading sometimes to life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat rhythm). Nicotine-induced coronary spasm can cause heart attacks even with virtually healthy arteries,” she added.
Research has showed that smoke inhaled in one hour of shisha can equal up to 100 cigarettes, according to the World Health Organisation. Tobacco smoke retains higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals even after it has passed through the water.
Dr. Slimani has also urged smokers to take into account the risk of infectious diseases as shisha pipes are not always properly cleaned. She suggests Ramadan as an opportunity to quit smoking.
Shisha and cigarette tobacco contains over 4,000 cancerous compounds and toxins excluding nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.