Starting off in Croatia, Bradley and Barney set off on their mammoth 3,000-mile journey through Europe, aiming to experience extremes from the fiery heat of the Mediterranean to the icy tundras of the Arctic Circle. In the first episode of the series, the pair swing off the roof of the city’s football stadium before going to meet a young inventor. This father-son road trip which is enjoyed by tonnes of ITV viewers, was put on the line a few years back, after Bradley got a shock warning from health experts about his health and cholesterol levels.
Talking to The Sun back in 2020, Bradley revealed: “I was a time bomb. I produce too much cholesterol. It’s a silent killer. My heart guy said, ‘Look, Brad, you need to get fit’.”
What made the warning worse for Bradley was that his father passed away at the age of 59, so reaching the milestone age of 60 was particularly important for him.
The star added: “I had it in the back of my mind that I just had to get past my dad’s age. So turning 60 was a bit of a milestone.
“I was 33 when he passed away. I’d just done the Royal Variety Show performance which helped launch my career, but my dad died from heart failure two weeks after that and never got to see it.
“Once you know it’s hereditary, you start having regular tests. Of course it’s a concern.”
After the loss of his father, Bradley took himself to his GP where he had a “game-changing” carotid artery test.
The Mayo Clinic explains that a carotid test, or carotid ultrasound as it is also known, is a test performed for narrowed carotid arteries which increase the risk of stroke.
Typically, these arteries clog up because of a buildup of plaque. This plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances that circulate in the blood.
Doctors usually recommend that individuals have the test if they suffer from certain types of stroke, or have the following health conditions:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of stroke or heart disease
- Recent transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke
- Abnormal sound in carotid arteries
- Coronary artery disease.
The test is able to detect how much “furring” an individual has. This refers to the amount of fatty deposits that have built up in the walls of the arteries and how close they could possibly be to having a heart attack.
“This was literally just prior to lockdown,” Bradley explained about his personal diagnosis.
“Then lockdown hit. I got on the scales and saw I’d hit 14st 9lbs, the heaviest I’ve ever been. I really was quite big.
“I thought, ‘Oh crikey, I’m gonna be bang in trouble here if I don’t lose the weight and start dealing with this’. I decided to get consciously stuck in. So, touch wood, I will be OK.”
Taking heed of the doctors warning Bradley made some drastic changes to his diet and lifestyle. The star started to eat more fruit, vegetables, salads and fish, and became conscious of hidden sugars.
The American Heart Association explains that some people inherit genes from their parents or even grandparents that cause them to have too much cholesterol.
This is known as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a condition that can potentially be dangerous as it can cause premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
In other cases, cholesterol levels can increase due to the lifestyle choices an individual makes. Your body naturally produces all the LDL (bad) cholesterol it needs, but an unhealthy lifestyle makes your body produce more LDL cholesterol than it needs, thus increasing cholesterol levels.
Specific behaviours and habits that can increase bad LDL cholesterol levels include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Being overweight or obese.
Therefore, making worthy changes to your lifestyle can dramatically benefit your overall health. In addition, getting your cholesterol levels tested regularly will allow you to see if the changes you make are working, or if more might be needed.
The NHS explains that there are two ways of having a cholesterol test. One is through taking some blood from your arm, the other is a finger prick test, used to help spot early signs of heart disease and diabetes. The former test is used for those over 40.