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Strictly: Robert Webb unveiled as 2021 series contestant

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The star – who has worked alongside long-term friend David Mitchell for many years on projects such as Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look – said that Mitchell was “delighted” when he told him he was taking part in Strictly. Robert also recently revealed that a near stroke with death changed his outlook on life. Talking in an interview about why he decided to sign up to the BBC One hit show (which starts again tonight September 18) he said: “It’s partly my age and it’s partly, nearly two years ago I had quite a big deal health thing”.

When undergoing a routine heart check-up in 2019 doctors noticed something extremely wrong.

It was in fact a heart murmur that the doctors had noticed. Explaining more about his diagnosis Robert revealed that doctors warned: “I’m not saying you’re going to have a heart attack in the next fortnight – but in the next two to four to six months, this heart will fail.’” He pauses. “So that got my attention.”

After his diagnosis the star carried on, augmentin tablets leaflet doing a week’s filming. However, looking back on his decisions he realises it might not have been the best way forward: “I think it was the actor thing where the show must go on unless you’re literally about to die – but I was literally about to die.”

From this, the star was urged to undergo emergency open-heart surgery, to stop his heart from failing. He continued to say: “I had open-heart surgery, so since then I think my attitude is basically, this is no time to be cool and sitting at the edges watching other people doing the dancing.

“If you have got something to offer, it might be time to offer it.”

The emergency surgery Robert had was to fix his mitral valve – a small flap in the heart that stops blood flowing the wrong way. If the valve malfunctions blood leaks backwards into the left atrium. If not treated it can result in heart muscle damage.

The surgery took a lengthy eight hours and afterwards the performer spent a couple of nights in a high-dependency unit. Robert explained: “They literally switched me off. I was on a heart and lung machine, which was doing my blood and breathing for me.

“I was optimistic about the operation, but I made sure my will was up to date, gave my wife power of attorney and had a meeting at my publishers Canongate, and said, ‘If it doesn’t go well, publish this book [his novel Come Again] because it took ages to write!”

Shocked by his diagnosis and following surgery, the 48-year-old thought how he was feeling was a normal part of ageing. But it turned out his heart had grown in size and had become a strange shape.

“The cardiologist said that was the weirdest looking heart he’d ever seen. It’s amazing it kept going as long as it did. It was very close to it just packing up…”

After his traumatic health scare, the actor decided that enough was enough. There and then he decided to “get rid” of his “addictions” to alcohol and cigarettes as he had a newfound respect for his internal organs.

Now he is firmly focused on being the one to lift that glitter ball trophy saying it would be “lovely to win”.

Heart murmurs are most often due to acquired heart valve problems. Along with signalling problems with the mitral valve, heart murmurs can also be signs of holes in the heart and cardiac shunts.

Many different medical conditions can increase your risk of heart murmurs, including:

  • A weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • An infection of the lining of the heart (endocarditis)
  • Blood disorders marked by a high number of certain white cells, called eosinophils (hypereosinophilic syndrome)
  • Certain autoimmune disorders, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chemicals from a rare tumor in the lungs or gastrointestinal system that enter your bloodstream (carcinoid syndrome)
  • Heart valve disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

Mitral valve problems are also associated with heart murmurs like in Robert Webb’s case.

The main problems that affect the mitral valve are:
Mitral valve prolapse – the valve becomes too floppy
Mitral regurgitation – the valve leaks and blood flows the wrong way
Mitral stenosis – the valve does not open as wide as it should.

Many people who suffer with the condition do not have any symptoms, making it harder for the condition to be diagnosed unless they have a heart scan.

Common symptoms of mitral valve prolapse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Tiredness
  • An irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or noticeable heartbeats (palpitations).

Symptoms for mitral regurgitation are similar but include chest pain. If you experience any of the above symptoms it is crucial to seek medical advice.

If the problem with your valve is serious then your doctor may recommend open-heart surgery, medication or keyhole surgery to help the mitral valve close.

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