Over the years, the star has suffered from various gardening-related injuries. In the past, he has admitted that he often has “blackened fingernails, lacerated arms and legs from confrontations with well-armed rose bushes, stabbing pains in the back from carrying paving slabs and large posts.” Due to more than six decades of laborious work the star also suffers from a “bit of backache”. Despite frequent injuries and ailments, it was a family history of heart disease that made Titchmarsh “ease up” from the work he so desperately loves, following doctor’s advice that he take statins every day to avoid any life-threatening illnesses.
Talking to The Mirror a few years back, the botany genius revealed that he was advised by his doctor to start taking statins in order to avoid heart disease – the condition that killed his father and other male relatives.
He said: “I’m on statins. I wish I wasn’t. I don’t like the thought of taking tablets every day, but I’m following my doctor’s advice.
“He thinks it’s a good idea.
“The thing is, the men in my family have had a tendency to die from heart disease at a relatively young age.
READ MORE: Dementia: Nine early warning symptoms of disease – surprising lesser-known signs to spot
“My dad, for instance, died suddenly in 1986 from a heart attack, aged just 62.”
With the tragedy of his father’s death looming over him, the Love Your Garden presenter thought about his own health, and the reality of retirement.
With no current plans to give up his spade and just yet, Titchmarsh continued to say: “Outliving my dad has made me think about things.
“The truth of the matter is that I’ve decided to ease up a bit, and pace myself.”
Despite his commitment to adopt an easier lifestyle, in 2016 the star was airlifted to hospital with all the signs of a heart attack.
After eating a portion of fish, chips and an Easter egg, the star was left in “agony” with what he initially thought was gallstones.
But after being taken to hospital, the star was diagnosed with gallstones – a small stone made of cholesterol that can become trapped in an opening of the duct, causing intense pain in your tummy.
“I hoped I wasn’t going to die, and I was hanging on in there, but the pain was so acute at one point I thought it might be a blessed relief,” Alan said reflecting on his ordeal.
“At first, I thought it was indigestion as I know that it can give you chest pains, but it didn’t wear off.
“I didn’t know what was wrong and although I didn’t think it was a heart attack, because the pain wasn’t going down my arm, it was frightening,” Alan explained to The Sunday Post.
“[It was] every bit as agonising as a heart attack”, he added.
The NHS explains that gallstones are caused by high cholesterol levels in the bile of the gallbladder, which is released into the digestive system when it is needed.
Although previously warned about his high cholesterol, and even on the medication to lower his levels, Titchmarsh’s health fears had not disappeared. At the time his agent said in a statement: “He will be looking at the food he eats.”
Individuals are more at risk of developing gallstones if they are, overweight or obese, female (particularly if you have had children) or 40 years old and above, similar risks to coronary heart disease (CHD).
The British Heart Foundation explains that heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, that’s more than 160,000 deaths each year. There are also around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK.
The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain throughout the body
- Feeling faint
- Feeling sick (nausea).
Once diagnosed the condition cannot be cured. But the NHS explains that treatment can help to manage symptoms and reduce the chances of problems such as heart attacks. These treatments include lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and stopping smoking, medication and surgery. Medications such as statins help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which also helps to warn off CHD.