Sir Roy Strong: "When I was 75 last year, I employed a personal trainer"

“When I was 75 last year, I employed a personal trainer”: Under the microscope with Sir Roy Strong

The broadcaster and historian, 76, on why he wants to keep fit, his waistline, missing his wife and his biggest vice

“I don”t have children or anyone to fall back on and I”ve realised I must keep myself as fit as I can,” said Sir Roy Strong

WHAT’S YOUR SECRET FOR STAYING TRIM

When I was 75 last year, I employed a personal trainer, Doug. I don’t have children or anyone to fall back on and I’ve realised I must keep myself as fit as I can. That way, when I finally need some help, people will say: ‘Roy was still trotting around at 86, so we don’t mind propping him up a bit now!’

HAD ANY HEALTH SCARES

I had a serious bout of pneumonia two years ago. After injecting me with a big syringe, the nurse said: ‘You didn’t bat an eyelid.’ It’s a generational thing. I was always brought up to be stoic.

POP ANY PILLS

I take warfarin every day to thin my blood. I have to take it for ever ‘to avoid a massive stroke’ said the doctor. Much as I dislike taking medicine, I agreed the alternative was worse.

HEALTHY EATER

Breakfast is muesli, fruit compote from my garden, natural yoghurt and a cup of green tea and I allow myself one slice of bread a week on Sundays with marmalade or jam. I snack on dried fruit and I’m trying to eliminate lunch. I cook my evening meal — mainly fish or chicken with plenty of vegetables, followed by raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of creme fraiche.

BIGGEST VICE

My Achilles heel is drink. In the evening Doug’s mandate of one glass of wine a day goes out the window. I have at least two and, if fed up, a gin and tonic, too.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

Julia, my wife, who died of pancreatic cancer eight years ago, was the love of my life. I miss her every day, but I am thankful for 32 years of happiness. And although people have circled me thinking they might become the second Lady Strong, that will never happen.

A glass of strawberries and cream Yellow analogue Revival Radio

After his evening meal, Sir Roy likes “raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of creme fraiche (left)”. The radio (right) on all night helps him “sleep even better”

EVER DIETED

I was a podgy child and I gained too much weight in the Seventies when I was Director of the V & A. In my mid-40s, I started jogging and changed to a healthy diet and literally reformed everything. I now weigh around 12 st 6lb (I’m 5ft 10in). I do worry about my waistline because I am frightfully vain.

WORST ILLNESS

At 14 I had Hodgkin’s disease — a form of lymphatic cancer — but I was never told until I was in my 60s, when my brother said: ‘We thought you were a goner!’

SLEEP WELL

You could put me down on a railway track and I’d go to sleep. Nowadays I like to keep the radio on all night. It helps me sleep even better.

EVER BEEN DEPRESSED

No, although like everyone, I’ve been down in the dumps occasionally.

LIKE TO LIVE FOR EVER

No — I’d be past my sell-by date.

Sir Roy’s latest book, Visions Of England, is published by Bodley Head at 17.99.

Leona Lewis"s waist: Secrets of an A-list body

How to get a waist like Leona Lewis: Secrets of an A-list body

We reveal how to get the enviable physiques of the stars. This week, popstar Leona Lewis’s waist.

She was once a curvy size 14, but recent pictures show Leona Lewis, 26, now has a hand-span waist.

The singer says a detox diet two years ago kickstarted her transformation and she is now a size ten.

Leona Lewis was once a curvy size 14, but recent pictures show she now has a hand-span waist

Leona Lewis was once a curvy size 14, but recent pictures show she now has a hand-span waist

A fan of belly-dancing — ‘It’s great for your abs’ — she also runs regularly and goes hiking.

Try this: A lunge with rotation works the lower body. Hold a single dumbbell by the ends with both hands so the weight is parallel to the floor.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out, but don’t lock your elbows.

Leona Lewis at The Global Angel Awards Leona Lewis at the Emeralds & Ivy Ball in aid of Cancer Research UK

Leona is a fan of belly-dancing – “It”s great for your abs,” she says – and she also runs regularly and goes hiking

Take a big step forward with your left foot and, contracting your abdominals, twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees. Your legs should form 90-degree angles to the floor.

Twist your waist back to the centre, push off your left foot, and stand back up. Repeat on the other leg.

Repeat eight to 12 times on each side.

Gene test that could save lives of heart operation patients

Gene test that could save lives of heart operation patients

Doctors and scientists have developed a new screening programme to identify those at risk

Doctors and scientists have developed a new screening programme to identify those at risk

Doctors have developed a new test to identify patients at risk of complications following heart surgery.

More than 120,000 people undergo coronary artery procedures a year including heart surgery and angioplasty (where a tiny balloon is inserted into the blocked artery to clear it).

Following these procedures, it’s vital that patients take blood-thinning drugs to prevent the formation of blood clots which can cause a new heart attack or stroke.

Clopidogrel, also known as Plavix, is one of the most commonly prescribed clot-busting drugs.

However, to prevent blood clots forming, the drug has to be turned into its active form in the liver.

Recent studies show that about a third of patients have a genetic defect which prevents clopidogrel from working properly, leaving them three to five times more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack within a year of surgery.

Now doctors and scientists at London Bridge Hospital have developed a new screening programme to identify those at risk.

This tests patients’ blood to make sure it is clotting properly and screens for the genetic defect using a swab from the inside of the cheek.

Results are available in less than an hour and, if a problem is found, patients are put on alternative medication.

Currently, patients undergoing heart surgery are monitored for side-effects of the drugs.

Alan Rayner, a surgical assistant who operates the heart-lung machine during surgery, developed the programme alongside cardiologist Dr Cliff Bucknall and says routinely screening all patients requiring coronary intervention will save lives.

‘Until now, patients have been given clopidogrel with no monitoring of its effect. It’s been a one-size-fits-all approach,’ he says.

‘In many cases, the first time doctors are aware that it is not working properly is when a patient gets symptoms such as chest pain.

‘For some, waiting until then may be too late.

‘/12/06/article-2070418-0588B9CA000005DC-594_468x370.jpg” width=”468″ height=”370″ alt=”Research carried out in New Zealand found that preventing just two heart attacks would more than pay for 100 patients to be screened” class=”blkBorder” />

Research carried out in New Zealand found that preventing just two heart attacks would more than pay for 100 patients to be screened

Similar tests are available in other private hospitals and on the NHS.

However, they are not routinely offered to heart surgery patients and the results can take weeks.

The older technology they use means the blood samples have to be sent to specialist laboratories for analysis — and cost at least 500.

Instead, patients are monitored for signs — such as high blood pressure or bleeding after treatment — that the drugs are not working properly. The new test costs around 200.

Research carried out in New Zealand found that preventing just two heart attacks would more than pay for 100 patients to be screened.

But says Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, there is not yet enough evidence for the new test to be made available nationwide, as it is not clear how many side-effects the tests would avoid.

‘The principle is a good idea and this kind of personalised genetic testing will increase in the future,’ he says.

‘But there is controversy over whether these tests are cost-effective.’

Meanwhile, a study of 1,000 patients by U.S. scientists has revealed that early-morning heart attacks — those that occur between 1am and 5am — are the most damaging.

The research team, who also factored in the amount of time it took each patient to seek help, suggest that the ability of the heart to protect itself against damage fluctuates with our 24-hour body clock.

These powers of protection are at their lowest between 1am and 5am, as this is when we are in deep sleep; the heart does not need to prepare for any stresses, and so it can reduce the number of protective chemicals and focus on repair.

‘It is important to understand that the heart’s ability to protect itself against more severe damage varies over a 24-hour cycle,’ said the study’s author Jay Traverse, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, whose findings were published in the journal Circulation Research.

He believes the findings may help researchers develop more effective heart drugs.

Could your painkillers give you an accidental overdose?

Could your painkillers give you an accidental overdose

Taking slightly too much paracetamol day after day can be fatal, researchers at Edinburgh University recently warned, as the damage can build up gradually.

Each year, the average adult swallows more than 300 painkilling pills, according to the British Medical Association. So, are you taking the right type — and the right dose. And what are the risks to watch out for

We asked Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers for her advice…

From ibuprofen and codeine to aspirin and paracetamol, the average adult swallows more than 300 painkilling pills a year

From ibuprofen and codeine to aspirin and paracetamol, the average adult swallows more than 300 painkilling pills a year

IBUPROFEN

This drug works by blocking some of the body’s production of prostaglandins, substances which act as messengers helping to relay pain messages to the brain. As well as a painkiller, ibuprofen is also useful for temperatures, inflammation and period pain.

That’s because prostaglandins control the thermostat in the brain and trigger fever in response to illness; they also trigger inflammation (by causing blood vessels to dilate) in response to injury, and control muscles and trigger cramps in the uterus during a woman’s period.

BEST FOR: Arthritic pain, pain due to injury, period pain, headaches, muscular pain and tooth ache.

DRAWBACKS: Because prostaglandins also protect the lining of the stomach, ibuprofen should be avoided by anyone who’s had stomach ulcers or internal stomach bleeding. It can also cause indigestion and nausea if taken on an empty stomach.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU TAKE Up to two 200mg tablets or one 400mg tablet, up to three times a day.

CODEINE

Like morphine and heroin, codeine is a drug derived from the opium plant – indeed nine codeine tablets would be equal to a dose of morphine.

Because of its potency it is only available in combination with ibuprofen in products such as Nurofen Plus or in combination with paracetamol in products such as Co-codamol when bought over the counter.

Rather than working on the cause of the pain, it reduces the perception of pain. It does this by blocking receptors in the spinal cord and the brain which help to send pain signals to the brain.

BEST FOR: Short-term moderate pain, such as one-off really bad back ache or dental pain.

DRAWBACKS: Codeine has a sedative effect so it can make you feel drowsy and like any opium-based drugs can be addictive. The long-term use of codeine can trigger medication-overuse headaches.

Codeine can also cause constipation (it is sometimes used to treat diarrhoea.)

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU TAKE The maximum you should take in a day is 240mg, although to get this amount you would have be taking prescription-only codeine. Over-the-counter codeine is always combined with another painkiller, and you must stick to the dosage to avoid overdosing with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

PARACETAMOL Paracetamol is gentler on the stomach, so it can be taken on an empty stomach

Paracetamol is gentler on the stomach, so it can be taken on an empty stomach

Like ibuprofen, this blocks the production of prostaglandins but does nothing at the site of the pain to reduce inflammation.

BEST FOR: When you need something to ease aches and pains but you don’t feel like eating — such as when you have a cold or flu. Paracetamol is gentler on the stomach, so unlike ibuprofen or codeine, for example, it can be taken on an empty stomach.

It is the only painkiller suitable for use during pregnancy, and the junior versions such as Calpol can also be given to children over the age of two months.

DRAWBACKS: It is easy to overdose unintentionally, which can lead to liver damage and potentially death.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU TAKE The normal dose is two 500mg tablets every four hours, but an adult should take no more than eight tablets in any 24-hour period.

You must also ensure when taking paracetamol with something else, such as a cold remedy that also contains paracetamol, you do not accidentally take too much.

ASPIRIN

Originally derived from willow bark, aspirin — like ibuprofen — acts on prostaglandins to relieve pain. However, it has another, different effect on these substances.

As well as causing pain, prostaglandins cause platelets in the blood to clump together — this can trigger the formation of a clot, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin can reduce this clotting effect, thereby thinning the blood — which is why it’s often taken at a low, daily preventative dose of 75mg by those who have had a heart attack.

BEST FOR: The same as ibuprofen.

DRAWBACKS: Like ibuprofen, this should not be taken on an empty stomach because it may trigger stomach ulcers.

Also, because it thins the blood, it is best avoided by those on blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin, or anyone with an allergy to aspirin.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU TAKE A typical tablet is 300mg, which can be taken up to four times within 24 hours.


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