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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 00:49 GMT
Celebrity Health - Ian Lavender
Ian Lavender
Ian shot to fame as 'stupid boy' Pike in Dad's Army
In a series on celebrities and their health, the BBC News website talks to actor Ian Lavender about his heart attack.

Ian, 60, is famous for his role as the "stupid boy" Pike in the comedy Dad's Army, which began in 1968 and ran for 10 years.

Since Dad's Army, Ian has mainly concentrated on his stage career with appearances including a role alongside Dustin Hoffman in The Merchant of Venice.

But he has also appeared on the small-screen in EastEnders, Casualty, Goodnight Sweethearts and The Doctors.

HOW DID YOU FIRST REALISE SOMETHING WAS WRONG?

Two and a half years ago I was in the kitchen reading a script for the next days work on EastEnders.

One moment I was perfectly fine and then within moments everything was different.

I just knew there was something very, very wrong.

My first reaction was 'this is not supposed to happen to me'
Ian Lavender

All I can say is I have never felt so dreadfully ill, and all in a few seconds.

I don't remember being in pain except that my chest and arms felt heavy.

I told my wife and she took me to our local surgery.

HOW DID YOU GET DIAGNOSED?

When I got into the surgery they knew what was wrong.

Everybody dropped everything and they started the crash procedure.

They said 'you are having a heart attack', but I did not feel any pain.

I have seen someone have a heart attack and they were in excruciating pain, but I had none of that.

I was given morphine, an ECG (electrocardiogram) and then 'blue-lighted' into the hospital and then I don't remember much else.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE DIAGNOSIS?

I realised what was wrong because of what was happening around me.

But I was surprised that I had a heart attack. I had not thought myself at risk.

Ian Lavender
Ian got immediate treatment
My first reaction was 'this is not supposed to happen to me.'

But there is not a lot you can do.

My mother had a minor heart attack, but that had been 30-35 years ago.

And I used to be a smoker, but that was a long time ago, so in my mind that was not a risk factor.

I'd had regular check-ups and had recently had my cholesterol checked, because I had a thrombosis (blood clot).

WHAT WAS YOUR TREATMENT?

I was extremely lucky as I was at the surgery within two minutes and they started working on me immediately.

Within five minutes there were three doctors and a nurse and our paramedic working on me.

Then I was taken to West Suffolk Hospital and was in the cardiac care unit within half an hour, before being moved to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for an angioplasty - where a small balloon was inserted to inflate an artery which has become partially blocked and narrowed, and two stents - which are used to hold open arteries.

I was just so lucky.

HOW DID YOU FEEL DURING THE TREATMENT?

That was fascinating.

I was awake during the angioplasty and was able to watch by screen them going from my groin up into my heart.

I was not in any pain whatsoever and it was quite amazing.

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW?

I feel very lucky because I was in the right place at the right time.

British Heart Foundation campaign
The British Heart Foundation is urging against delays
I was not driving the car on the motorway, or stuck somewhere in London when it happened, but I was at home within two minutes of my local surgery and seven minutes from my local hospital.

And my area is part of the Addenbrookes group, which has Papworth within it.

Yes, I was very lucky.

WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO OTHER PEOPLE WITH THE SAME CONDITION?

All the obvious things - like do look after yourselves, eat healthily and don't take any risks.

If you feel any chest pain, phone 999 and don't wait until the damage has been done.

Call if you have any of the classic symptoms as the ambulance crews would much rather you called them and it was a false alarm, than you left it too late.

Ian talks about his health to promote the work of the British Heart Foundation (BHF).


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