Robert Webb’s ‘heart was going to fail’- heart defect

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When filming for the sitcom Back, Webb learned he had a congenital heart defect, which required emergency surgery. Speaking to NME about the health scare in 2021, the father-of-two said: “I was incredibly unwell. roberyI knew something was up, but I didn’t realise that my heart was on its last legs.”

Webb elaborated: “The mitral valve had prolapsed and was flapping about uselessly, and the heart had grown and remodelled to desperately keep the show on the road.

“The cardiologist said that in two to six months the heart was going to fail.”

The NHS highlighted that a mitral valve prolapse could lead to:

  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Tiredness
  • An irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Mitral regurgitation.

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“Many people with a mitral valve prolapse do not have symptoms and it may only be spotted during a heart scan,” the health body adds.

In addition to surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve, people who have the condition are advised to “make lifestyle changes”.

Lifestyle adjustments can include giving up smoking, caffeine, and alcohol, as these could “make your heart work too hard”.

After the operation, Webb gave up the booze and cigarettes for his health, which made him think he would be fit enough to compete in Strictly Come Dancing.


Yet, after a few dances, he had to announce his withdrawal from the BBC competition.

“I’m extremely sorry to have to announce that I’m withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health,” Webb said in 2021.

“Two years ago I had open heart surgery and, although I believed I was fit enough to take on Strictly and its demanding schedule, it became clear that I had bitten off way more than I could chew for this stage in my recovery.

“I had begun to feel symptoms that led me to seek an urgent consultation with my heart specialist.

“And it was her view that it would be better for the sake of my health to step back from the show.”

The 50-year-old will need to have regular check-ups to monitor his condition.

What is the mitral valve?

“The mitral valve is a small flap in the heart that stops blood flowing the wrong way,” the NHS says. “Problems with it can affect how blood flows around the body.”

A mitral valve prolapse is “usually caused by problems with the tissues that join the mitral valve to the heart muscles”.

Rarely, it can be caused by heart damage as the result of a heart attack, but most people are born with it.

While the condition is considered “serious”, as Webb would know, it is “treatable”.

BBC One’s Death In Paradise airs on Friday, January 13 at 9pm.

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