Had I known how se­ri­ous the risk of heart at­tack was, I’d have done things dif­fer­ently

Loughborough Echo - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE -

TV per­son­al­ity Christo­pher Big­gins, 70, was di­ag­nosed with type 2 di­a­betes in 2010. He’s now fronting a cam­paign to raise aware­ness H E IS some­thing of a na­tional trea­sure, win­ning I’m A Celebrity in 2007, and now TV star Christo­pher Big­gins has just cel­e­brated a land­mark birth­day – turn­ing 70.

He is burst­ing with en­ergy as he has shed more than a stone af­ter be­ing told he has type 2 di­a­betes.

He says: “Sev­enty is the new 40. I walk 5-6 kilo­me­tres a day. I’m not scared of death. Ex­er­cis­ing is the great se­cret. I feel bet­ter than ever.”

This bodes well for fans of the ev­er­green panto favourite, who this sea­son is Widow Twankey in Aladdin in Brad­ford.

Here Christo­pher, who is fronting a cam­paign to warn about the risk of heart at­tacks and strokes in peo­ple with type 2 di­a­betes, talks about deal­ing with his di­ag­no­sis. Be­fore your di­ag­no­sis, did you un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of type 2 di­a­betes? NO and it was a long time af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed that I found out hav­ing type 2 di­a­betes in­creased my risk of hav­ing a heart at­tack or stroke. Had I known how se­ri­ous the risk was, I’d have done things dif­fer­ently.

That’s why this cam­paign is so im­por­tant, it’s giv­ing peo­ple the right in­for­ma­tion so that they know what they can do to lower their risk. How do you feel about your own risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease? KNOW­ING that I’m twice as likely to have a stroke or a heart at­tack be­cause I have type 2 di­a­betes is sober­ing. I know I want to make changes. I didn’t even know what my tar­gets were for blood pres­sure, choles­terol and HbA1c [blood glu­cose (su­gar) lev­els], which I re­alised dur­ing this cam­paign.

It’s shock­ing isn’t it? But I have to be hon­est to help oth­ers. Now that you know more, what ac­tion will you take to re­duce your risk? EVERY­DAY things. In a restau­rant, you eat bread be­fore the meal. I’m go­ing to stop that. And I’m go­ing to look at the su­gar I’m hav­ing.

I don’t have a lot of su­gar but there’s su­gar in every­thing, of course. I al­ways en­sure I take my med­i­ca­tion, that’s def­i­nitely one thing I do well.

I’m al­ways busy so I keep ac­tive that way, es­pe­cially when I’m do­ing pan­tomime. I’m also go­ing to make sure I know ex­actly what my tar­gets should be and work hard to meet them! I have tests twice a year with my health­care team, but they can’t move in with you, you have to want to do it your­self. What is the one thing you want oth­ers to know about liv­ing with type 2 di­a­betes? I WANT them to know that it’s never too soon to make changes! I wish I’d re­alised that when I was first di­ag­nosed in­stead of now, as I turn 70.

But it’s also im­por­tant to not think you’re too old ei­ther. How im­por­tant do you think it is for peo­ple liv­ing with type 2 di­a­betes to have some­one in the pub­lic eye rais­ing aware­ness about the is­sues they face? TO hear a fa­mil­iar voice, it hits home, I think. So, I think that that’s what per­son­al­i­ties or celebri­ties can do. They can con­vey that mes­sage to peo­ple and if they see a re­sult in them, hope­fully they will think, “If I do the same thing, I can get what they’ve got.” You’re about to star in Aladdin, what do you love most about pan­tomime? I’VE done pan­tomime for over 40 years and I ab­so­lutely love it. It’s ex­hil­a­rat­ing to go out to an au­di­ence that are there to en­joy you and the show. I also love that pan­tomime is ac­ces­si­ble. It’s a breed­ing ground for au­di­ences, if they’ve en­joyed it, they’ll see what else is on or come back the fol­low­ing year. You’ve been on screen and on stage for over 50 years, what’s your se­cret? I THINK the se­cret, with­out a doubt, is my en­joy­ment. I think if you en­joy what you do, it comes over to the au­di­ence. Af­ter 54 years in the busi­ness, I still love it and I’ve been very, very lucky.

When I look at my CV I think, my god, the things I’ve done. What are you most proud of? YOU may be sur­prised by this, but I have to say and I al­ways say, ‘I’m a Celeb’. When you’re in there, you have no idea how you’re be­ing per­ceived. To win that as a 60-yearold gay man and to find the love and af­fec­tion of the whole coun­try be­hind me, was ex­tra­or­di­nary.

FOR more in­for­ma­tion on the Don’t miss a beat in the type 2 di­a­betes cam­paign – visit novonordisk.co.uk/dont­miss­abeat

Christo­pher Big­gins, above, cap­tured the na­tion’s hearts on I’m a Celebrity, left, in 2007

Christo­pher with his part­ner Neil Sin­clair

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