James Martin health: TV chef recalls the moment he witnessed someone die

Dr Chris looks at how your ears may indicate risk of heart disease

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It is little wonder James Martin has been cooking on our screens for almost two decades. His culinary skills are exemplary and his demeanour is jovial – essential ingredients for Saturday morning television. However, his upbeat presence belies a personal health scare that rocked him a few years back.

The event in question forced him to step down from Saturday Kitchen, the hugely popular show he had presented on the BBC for a decade.

While attending a food festival, James witnessed a friend die suddenly from a heart attack.

“I was in Dubai for a food festival about six months before I left Saturday Kitchen. There were 2,000 people in the room. I sat talking to this wonderful guy, same age as me, same kind of story about starting from nothing, only he’d gone to Dubai and set up one of the biggest publishing houses in the Emirates,” he recounted to MailOnline.

James continued: “He stood up to introduce the show, but while he was on stage, that was it. I saw him black out, hit the deck. Heart attack. He’d gone before he hit the floor.”

According to the chef, by the time the ambulance arrived came, it was too late.

“I’d spent two hours with him. I remember walking out and saying, ‘What’s it all for?’”

The traumatic event prompted James to take a break from television and reassess his goals.

James continued his television career in 2017, hosting ITV’s Saturday Morning with James Martin in 2017, a show he still presents today.

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Heart attack – what to look for

A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

According to the NHS, symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest pain – the chest can feel like it’s being pressed or squeezed by a heavy object, and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded, or both
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

It’s important to know that not everyone experiences severe chest pain.

This is particularly the case with many women – the pain can often be mild and mistaken for indigestion, explains the health body.

“It’s the combination of symptoms that’s important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack and not the severity of chest pain,” it adds.

How to respond to a heart attack

“The first thing you must do is dial 999 immediately for an ambulance,” advises the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Don’t worry if you’re not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack.

As the BHF points out, it’s really important that you seek medical attention regardless as quickly as possible.

Next, you should:

  • Sit down and rest
  • Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within arm’s reach
  • Stay calm and wait for the paramedics.

People often dismiss that they’re having a heart attack and will delay seeking medical attention.

“If you’re with someone who’s experiencing heart attack symptoms but they’re putting off or refusing to call an ambulance, it’s really important that you call one for them,” advises the BHF.

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