Richard Wilson health: One Foot in The Grave star reveals life-threatening health battle

Richard Wilson is regarded as a giant in British comedy for his hugely popular portrayal of Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. The show, which originally aired between 1990 to 2000, was due to get a revival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival a couple of years back. Richard was planning to reprise the iconic character for one night only but but in the run-up to the event the actor suddenly fell ill and had to pull out.


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It was revealed the actor had a heart attack but “remembers nothing” about the event.

The actor, who was struck down with the life-threatening condition in London’s Hampstead, was saved by a medical professional walking past him as it happened.

He told BBC Radio 2′s Graham Norton: “I had a heart attack and fell off a balcony. I don’t remember a thing about it.

“The great thing about the accident – I’m going to mention because I’d love to know who it was – the great thing about the accident is that there was a doctor walking by, and if he hadn’t been walking by, I wouldn’t be talking to you now.

“I’d love to know who he was.”

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According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), a heart attack happens when a blockage in your coronary artery causes part of your heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen.

Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot forms inside the artery after a fatty deposit (called atheroma) has broken off from the artery wall.

As the BHF explains, heart attack symptoms vary from one person to another.

The pain can also vary from person to person – for some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion, notes the health site.

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The duration of heart attack symptoms can also differ, with some people experiencing symptoms over days and others experiencing them suddenly and unexpectedly.

The common symptoms a heart attack are:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest
  • Pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath

How to prevent a heart attack

Luckily, a heart attack is largely preventable if you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to staving off the risk of having a heart attack.


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As a general rule, you should shun foods that contain high levels of saturated fat, as they increase levels of LDL cholesterol.

As the NHS explains, LDL cholesterol, which is often branded “bad cholesterol”, is a waxy substance found in your blood that can block your arteries – this mechanism acts as a deadly precursor to having a heart attack.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Pies
  • Fried foods
  • Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • Butter
  • Ghee (a type of butter often used in Indian cooking)
  • Lard
  • Cream
  • Hard cheese
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Foods that contain coconut or palm oil

Instead, you should opt for a Mediterranean-style diet, which generally consists of eating more bread, fruit, vegetables and fish, and less meat, advises the NHS.

Numerous evidence shows the benefit of following a Mediterranean-style diet to protect heart health.

One notable study found that adults who closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period compared to similar adults who did not closely follow the diet.

Among the study’s participants, adherence to the Mediterranean diet was more protective than physical activity.

Although, for optimal heart-health, the Mediterranean diet should be combined with regular physical exercise.

As the NHS explains, being active and doing regular exercise will lower your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition, therefore reducing your risk of having a heart attack.

The health body recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.

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