BRADLEY Walsh was warned by doctors he would die if he did not lose weight immediately in a major heart scare.
The Chase star, 60 — who is a high risk after dad Daniel died of heart disease aged 59 — was shocked into giving up booze and fatty food.
He said: “I was a time bomb. I produce too much cholesterol. It’s a silent killer. My heart guy said, ‘Look, Brad, you need to get fit’.’’
After turning 60 last month, and the dire warning from his cardiologist, The Chase host has totally quit booze and given up carbs.
Bradley hopes to alert others about the “silent killer” of heart disease — and encourage those at risk to get tested.
He told The Sun on Sunday: “I had a hang-up because my father, Daniel, died at the age of 59.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I just had to get past my dad’s age. So turning 60 was a bit of milestone.
“I was 33 when he passed away. I’d just done the Royal Variety Show performance which helped launch my career, but my dad died from heart failure two weeks after that and never got to see it.
“Once you know it’s hereditary, you start having regular tests. Of course it’s a concern.
“Every couple of years I go and have a full medical at the Loughton Cardiac Clinic (in Essex).
“I go on the treadmill, and then I have a carotid artery test which is a total game-changer.
“People don’t normally have them because, on the NHS, you don’t really get them unless you’ve had a heart attack.
“But they basically tell you how much furring you’ve got in the artery which is in your neck and it’s a very accurate predictor of whether you’ll then have furring in your heart.
“I also had a calcium test for my heart and that came back at zero which is good, but I also have hereditary high cholesterol through my mum, Margaret.
“I’m not on statins but what my heart guy said was, ‘Look, Brad, if you start training, all that (cholesterol) will drop. You need to get fit’.
“I was a time bomb. I was quite lucky in regards to the calcium test but my doctor said I produce too much cholesterol. It’s a silent killer.
“And this was literally just prior to lockdown. Then lockdown hit. I got on the scales and saw I’d hit 14st 9lbs, the heaviest I’ve ever been. I really was quite big.
“I thought, ‘Oh crikey, I’m gonna be bang in trouble here if I don’t lose the weight and start dealing with this’. I decided to get consciously stuck in. So, touch wood, I will be OK.”
Too much cholesterol in the blood causes a process called atherosclerosis which builds up fatty deposits in the artery walls — a potentially fatal form of heart disease.
The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked.
Inherited cholesterol makes it harder for the body to remove LDL — or “bad” — cholesterol from the blood, and drastically increases the risk of heart attack or a stroke.
Around nine in ten people with it have not been diagnosed — meaning early testing is crucial.
Bradley adds: “I’ve done a couple of bits for the Heart Foundation, and I would encourage everyone to get tested.
“People can look really healthy on the outside and on the inside, you don’t know what’s going on. More than half of it is down to your DNA, down to hereditary factors, so the day after my birthday on June 4, I started watching what I eat. I stopped drinking immediately because of all the hidden sugars, started eating more fruit, vegetables, salads and fish.
“I’ve stopped eating cakes, breads, pasta, and we got a puppy, a Shiba Inu called Lulu — not after the singer — which has been brilliant because she’s got me out walking every day now.”
Charismatic Bradley says he is also getting advice on living healthily from uber-fit celebrity and former Towie hunk Mark Wright. Bradley laughs: “Wrighty lives around the corner from me.
“He’s been on at me to get an Apple watch so I can count my calories and measure my steps.
“He’s always telling me what I should be doing with nutrition and fitness, and he looks sensational.
“He should bring out his own fitness DVD!”
As one of ITV’s most in-demand stars — he earns second only to TV Ant and Dec — away from the camera Bradley is one of the friendliest, most decent men in showbiz. I first met him, hammered (me, not Bradley) at a Brits party three years ago, when he patiently escorted me to the exit after I snapped a high heel and had to be half-dragged across the dance floor.
Today, when our interview overruns by 20 minutes, and he’s prompted by his publicist to wrap things up, he insists we keep going.
Most celebs can’t hang up quick enough (Although, arguably, this says more about me than them).
But, still on the subject of hearts, Brad, a patron of the brilliant Make A Wish Foundation helping critically ill kids, lets slip an unusual encounter with the afterlife. The ex-Brentford footballer reckons comic and magician Tommy Cooper, who died from a heart attack live on stage, communicated with him through a medium.
He explains: “In April 1984, two weeks after Tommy died, I was doing some stand-up gigs in Basingstoke, when this guy comes up to me at the bar and says he has a message.
“I will never forget it. I was having an orange juice and he was about 6ft 2in with coiffured hair, wearing a black polo neck, a medallion around his neck and a purple velvet jacket. He was totally out of place in this small social club.
“He said: ‘Tommy Cooper told me to tell you from the other side that he’s watching over you. To keep doing what you’re doing. It may make some time, but you’ll get there in the end’.
“I was completely dumbstruck. I didn’t want to be rude and tell him Tommy was dead, but it stuck with me and I didn’t sleep for about two weeks after.
“I don’t know about the afterlife, but even saying this story, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up. I’ve never told anyone this before because I didn’t want them thinking, ‘God he’s mad, he’s off his rocker’. But I’ve said it now.”
After leaving school aged 16, and retiring from football with an injury two years later, the Arsenal fan started working the gruelling comedy circuit before getting his big break in 1994 with a presenting stint on the National Lottery.
In 2004 he became a household name after landing the part of chancer Danny Baldwin — named after his late dad — in Corrie.
After quitting the soap two years later, he went on to become host of cult daytime quiz The Chase (“My favourite Chaser? I can’t say that, but I will say I have most banter with Shaun Wallace, the Dark Destroyer. He’s brilliant”).
Last year he embarked on a road trip across America with his 22-year-old son Barney for ITV series Breaking Dad.
His choreographer wife Donna perhaps wisely chose to stay at home and cheer on from the comfort of the couple’s sofa.
Narrated by Alexander Armstrong, it has been commissioned for another two series and has been keeping viewers entertained during lockdown. So what other bizarre TV offers has he had?
“Well, I got asked to do Strictly but Donna is a fantastic dancer, and has done all the big TV shows.
“But she married someone who cannot dance to save his life.
“I am just terrible, I literally cannot dance. I would just be embarrassing.
“So when they offered it to me, I asked her what she thought and she just said, ‘Hmmm. OK. What about the jungle . . . ?’”
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