Vanessa Redgrave health: ‘I wanted to die’- Actress, 84, nearly gave up after heart attack

What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

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The actress was rushed to hospital at the age of 78, with concerns that she might not make it out again. At the time, The Mary, Queen of Scots actress gathered her close family around her, and thankfully made a steady recovery back to health. However, the health problems didn’t stop after her heart attack as Vanessa then developed emphysema.

The actress, who provides the voiceover for the BBC one drama Call The Midwife, thanked a “great surgeon,” for saving her life after her heart attack, and confessed that the ordeal changed her life in a lot of ways.

Speaking on Swedish TV the actress said: “Because of wonderful surgery I am here.

“Heart attacks make you funny. It does change you in lots of ways but I prefer to keep on the humorous side. They do affect you very much. You realise life is very precious.

“I have a new understanding, a new take on life.

“I thought I appreciated everything pretty well. That I cared about my profession, my family, the seasons, nature, flowers, science, art. All of it.

“But compared to how I notice and appreciate things now? Before this, I didn’t care at all. Now I find myself thinking what a miracle it all is.”

The British Heart Foundation explains that there are approximately 460 heart and circulatory related deaths each day, or one every three minutes in the UK.

Furthermore, there are a whopping 7.6 million people living with heart or circulatory disease, so Vanessa’s worry about her condition was completely justified.

In a candid interview with The Guardian, Vanessa revealed that when in hospital she was left willing for death. She said: “At the time? When I was in hospital I wanted to die.

“Trying to live was getting too tiring. I was with my daughter, and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just think I’m going to have to give up,’ – knowing she’d be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful.

“She did not say,’Go on. You can do it. Go on.’ She gave me a lovely smile and said, ‘Well, if you feel you must go, then you should go. That would be good.’

“Because she gave me the relief, I felt strong again and felt I could continue.”

Finding strength in her family, the star’s emphysema diagnosis didn’t come as such a surprise.

“It’s the smoking that did it,” she explained to the Evening Standard. “My lungs are shattered, about 30 percent capacity if I don’t smoke. Which of course I don’t anymore, though I was horrified to learn from my doctor that there are people with this diagnosis who still do.”

The NHS explains that emphysema is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath. Over time the air sacs of the lungs become damaged, and the inner walls of these air sacs weaken and sometimes rupture.

However, since giving the interview to the Evening Standard, Vanessa has denied knowing the capacity of her lungs after being diagnosed with emphysema, saying she did not know where the newspaper got it from.

When individuals exhale, the damaged alveoli don’t work properly and old air becomes trapped, leaving no room for fresh, oxygen-rich air to enter. The condition can lie dormant in many individuals who don’t have any symptoms. However, when you start to feel shortness of breath, even while at rest, it is time to seek advice from your GP.

The Mayo Clinic also explains that fingernails turning blue or grey can also be one of the first signs of emphysema. As Vanessa rightly identified, it is lifestyle factors such as long-term smoking that causes the condition. Exposure to air pollution and chemical fumes and dust can also trigger the condition.

The condition is incurable, but treatments can help to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. A combination of therapy and medication are the best methods of treatment to do this.

Lifestyle changes that individuals can adopt in order to slow the progress of the condition is first and foremost give up smoking. Avoiding respiratory irritants, exercising regularly, protecting yourself from cold air and getting a yearly flu vaccine are all other ways in which to protect yourself.

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