Today presenter Justin Webb undergoes heart surgery – but still manages to joke about it


'The BBC gave me heart disease,' jokes Justin Webb: Today presenter undergoes surgery at 51

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 4 December 2012

Today programme presenter Justin Webb has revealed he has had heart surgery, joking the stress of the job had taken its toll on his health.

Friends of the 51-year-old said he was unaware he had a heart problem until a few weeks ago after suffering from some discomfort.

But he said doctors took swift action after discovering he had coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart muscles.

Heart condition: Justin Webb has joked that his heart condition was brought out on by the BBC

Heart condition: Justin Webb has joked that his heart condition was brought out on by the BBC

If a coronary artery becomes
completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack, and so preventative
surgery can be necessary depending on the scale of the blockage.

Webb confirmed he underwent an
angioplasty – where arteries are widened by the insertion of a wire mesh
tube – at a central London hospital.

The presenter is married to Sarah with whom he has three children – twins Sam and Martha, 12, and Clara, eight.

Webb said: 'Thanks to all at Kings
College for (lifesaving) angioplasty. Thinking of being better person in
new life but wife says no obvious change.'

Tweeting through recovery: Justin Webb has regaled his fans with some anecdotes from his hospital bed

Tweeting through recovery: Justin Webb has regaled his fans with some anecdotes from his hospital bed

An angioplasty us often used as an
emergency operation when the patient has suffered a heart attack, as it
widens or clears obstructions, and allows blood to flow freely again.

It is not clear what contributed
Webb's ill health but according to the British Heart Foundation with
genetics, bad diet, age, and obesity contributing to increased risk of
suffering it.

'I blame the stress of working for the
BBC,' Webb explained in an interview from his home before adding:
'That's a joke, by the way.

Webb has worked for the Corporation since 1984 and has been one of the Radio 4 Today programme's presenters for three years.

'I am sorry that my fellow presenters
have to fill my shifts just before Christmas. I guess it's another
reason to get more women on Today – they tend not to get coronary
arterary disease [also known as heart disease]

It is expected he will take a “few weeks” rest before returning to his Today Programme duties in January.

Affable: Justin Webb has said after his surgery, 'Thinking of being better person in new life but wife says no obvious change'

Affable: Justin Webb has said after his surgery, 'Thinking of being better person in new life but wife says no obvious change'

A BBC spokesman said: 'Justin had
surgery last week. He is recovering well and we hope to see him back on
the Today programme very soon.'

Despite enduring such serious surgery the star managed to keep posting messages on his Twitter micro-blogging site.

According to NHS statistics, coronary heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, accounting for 94,000 deaths each year.

Overall around one in five men and one
in seven women die from the disease, and it is estimated 2.6 million
people are living with some form of heart disease.

It is more common in men than women and the chances of getting it increase with age.

The British Heart Foundation said that
coronary angioplasty is one of the most common types of operation to
treat such heart conditions.

More than 61,000 procedures are performed each year.

Last year Webb revealed that he is the secret son of 1970s newsreader Peter Woods, who died in 1995, aged 64 from cancer.

His late mother Gloria Crocombe had an
affair with Woods – who at the time was married with two young children
– when they were both working for a national newspaper.