Rylan Clark has revealed he suffered two heart failures amid the breakdown of his marriage to his husband of six years.
The TV presenter announced he had separated from Dan Neal last July and went on to share the impact the subsequent divorce had on his mental health.
But the It Takes Two host has now shared the further physical health issues he experienced following the split.
Speaking at his An Evening With Rylan Clark event at London Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday (21 September), Clark told the audience he had suffered heart failure twice and needed urgent medical assistance.
“It was like my body had shut down. Twice last year I ended up back in an ambulance because my heart had failed and it was really strange because I just remember for a couple of weeks going, ‘My heart hurts’,” the former X Factor contestant said, as reported in Metro.
He went on to add that while a normal resting heart rate might be 60 to 100 BPM (beats per minute), according to the British Heart Foundation, his was 248.
"My heart had to be restarted. I just remember lying in re-sus[citation], because I had these pads on with all these wires, and not understanding what it was," he continued.
Earlier this week, the TV presenter revealed the further toll his marriage breakdown had taken on his health.
Appearing on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast, Clark said: “My body did completely shut down. I wouldn’t eat. I went through a stage where I couldn’t even talk, which for some people might be quite handy.
“My speech was just slurred. My mum thought I was having a stroke. My body just went. I went down to nine stone and I am six foot four.”
What is heart failure?
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) estimates 920,000 people are living with heart failure in the UK and there are around 200,000 new diagnoses every year.
According to the NHS, heart failure means that the heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly.
It usually happens because the heart has become too weak or stiff.
If you suffer from heart failure it does not actually mean that your heart has stopped working, it just needs some support to help it work better.
"When your heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should, it means you’re not getting enough oxygen," the BHF site explains. "This affects how your body works, including your breathing and muscles."
Heart failure symptoms
If you're not getting enough oxygen, this is going to impact your body and could lead to you experiencing symptoms of heart failure.
There is a wide range of possible symptoms, but according Dr Rhianna McClymont, lead GP at Livi, the three main signs of heart failure are:
- Being short of breath – either when you’re active or resting.
- Extreme tiredness – this is likely to affect you most of the time, and your body may also feel weak as your muscles aren’t receiving enough blood and oxygen.
- Swollen legs and ankles due to a build-up of fluids.
"Other heart failure symptoms can include dizziness, fast heart rate, coughing and wheezing, weight fluctuations and an irregular heartbeat," adds Dr McClymont.
You should see your GP as soon as you can if you experience any of these symptoms.
If you are struggling to breathe or have chest pain, call 999 for immediate medical assistance.
Causes of heart failure
Dr McClymont says heart failure is often the result of damage or weakness in the heart caused by other conditions. These include:
- Coronary heart disease – when there's a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries blocking the oxygen-rich blood supply to your heart.
- Cardiomyopathy – when your heart muscle is abnormally enlarged, thickened or stiff.
- Congenital heart disease – a heart defect that you’re born with.
- Heart valve disease – when the heart valves are damaged, causing problems with blood flow through the heart.
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) – when your heart beats too fast, too slow or irregularly.
- Endocarditis – an infection that affects the heart muscle.
- Pulmonary hypertension – high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the lungs).
- High blood pressure – over time, this can put extra strain on the heart.
Other causes of heart failure can include drinking too much alcohol, anaemia, and an overactive thyroid.
Treatment for heart failure
Dr McClymont says that heart failure is usually a long-term condition that can be treated with a combination of medication, lifestyle changes and medical procedures.
"It can’t be cured, but it’s often possible to control the symptoms and live a full life," she adds.
It’s common to take medication to treat heart failure and many people take a combination of several different types including ACE inhibitors, which encourage the blood vessels to open up, allowing your heart to pump blood around your body more efficiently, Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), which also help to relax the blood vessels and also reduce blood pressure.
Beta blockers may also be used to slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of irregular heart rhythms.
Some diuretics can reduce fluid in the lungs and help you breathe more easily.
As well as medication small devices can also be fitted inside the body to help treat or regulate abnormal heart rhythms.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Various procedures can be effective, including bypass surgery, when a blood vessel from another part of the body is used to get around the narrowed part of the artery and angioplasty, when the artery is stretched open with a small balloon.
Heart valve surgery to repair or replace a damaged heart valve, is another potential form of treatment, while a heart transplant may be offered in rare cases.
Positive lifestyle changes
Dr McClymont says that making some changes to your lifestyle could impact your health and give other treatment for heart failure a better chance of being effective.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Stay active.
- Don’t smoke.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Understand your stress triggers and try to reduce stress in your life.
- Try to get plenty of sleep at regular times.
- Check your body mass index (BMI) and lose weight if you need to.
- Regularly check your weight as sudden weight gain can indicate excess fluid building up in your body.
- Control your blood pressure.