Alan Titchmarsh health scare: Gardeners’ World host in ‘absolute agony’ with gallstones

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When the pain hit Alan Titchmarsh, he dismissed the idea of a heart attack, even though he has a family history of heart disease. Thankfully, the TV presenter was right, but he still had to undergo surgery to have his gall bladder removed. In 1986, Alan’s father – aged 62 at the time – dropped dead after a heart attack. But Alan was certain he wasn’t following the same fate as his father. “I didn’t think it was a heart attack,” he told The Sunday Post.

He continued: “I didn’t know what was wrong… [but] the pain wasn’t going down my arm” – one of the warning signs of a heart attack.

“At first, I thought it was indigestion as I know that can give you chest pains — but it didn’t wear off.”

It was his beloved wife, Alison, who dialled the emergency services while with him at their home in the Isle of Wight.

Once transported into the medical ward, Alan was diagnosed with gallstones and underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder.

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are small stones, usually made from cholesterol, the NHS explained.

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Typically asymptomatic, if a gallstone becomes trapped in an opening inside the gallbladder, sudden and intense pain in the stomach can occur.

This excruciating pain can last anywhere between one to five hours, and is known as biliary colic.

People can develop complications, such as inflammation of the gallbladder – known as cholecystitis.

Cholecystitis can cause persistent pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and a high temperature.

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What’s the gallbladder?

“The gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ found underneath the liver,” said the NHS.

The main function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate bile – a liquid produced by the liver to help digest fats.

As bile becomes more concentrated in the gallbladder, it’s released into the digestive system when needed.

When the level of cholesterol becomes too high in bile stored in the gallbladder, gallstones form.

Gallstones are more common than most people would think, affecting more than one in every 10 adults in the UK.

Most people are unaware they have gallstones until they block bile ducts.

People are more at risk of developing gallstones if they’re overweight or obese.

Other risk factors include being a woman, especially if you’ve had children, and being 40 or over in age.

To treat troublesome and painful gallstones, key hole surgery is used to remove the gallbladder.

This procedure is known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, with a person still able to lead a normal life without a gallbladder.

Instead of bile collecting in the gallbladder, it’ll drip directly into the small intestine.

Alan Titchmarsh will be starring on ITV’s The Chase, on Sunday January 17 at 6pm.

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