Hilary Devey: Sally Nugent pays tribute to Dragons’ Den star
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On Sunday, June 12, a spokesperson confirmed the death of the entrepreneur who has been staying in her holiday home in Morocco. Immediately dedications from numerous celebrities and Devey’s co-stars came flooding in, including fellow “Dragon” Theo Paphitis who wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Hilary Devey. She left us all with some fantastic memories, may she rest in peace. My thoughts are with her family.” Others commented on how she was too young to have died, but it was made clear that the star had been suffering from ill health for some time. Although no official cause of death has been announced, back in 2009 Devey revealed the huge toll that having a stroke had had on her.
At the time the Secret Millionaire star said that her health ordeal started with what she thought was just a headache before waking up in the morning to even more pain.
“I took two paracetamol and drank some water and went to bed,” she shared when appearing on an episode of This Morning at the time.
“The following morning when I woke, the pain was worse. I was trying to pack for a business trip – something I’ve done a million times – and I just could not coordinate packing a suitcase… I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.”
Soon Devey’s symptoms started getting worse and hours later she described that one of her arms had gone “completely dead” and shortly after she collapsed in the shower.
Believing that she had suffered from a stroke, Devey’s son called an ambulance that rushed her to hospital where she spent time in intensive care fighting for her life.
The NHS explains that a stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It is classed as a medical emergency and treatment is urgently required to minimise brain damage.
There are two main causes of why blood is prevented from getting to the brain. These include:
- Ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, accounting for 85 percent of all cases
- Haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
With either cause, recognising the signs and symptoms of a stroke could potentially help to save an individual’s life as they will be able to get treatment quicker.
The main symptoms of a stroke can be remembered using the acronym FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Even after treatment, individuals can still suffer from long-lasting side effects and permanent damage to the brain, which is what happened to Devey.
Speaking about the aftermath of her stroke she continued to explain: “I lost a third of my brain… and I think it took me six months to come to terms [with it]. I had no energy to do anything.
“There is so much now that I can’t do. I remember coming home from the hospital and getting into the bathroom – and I thought what do I do now, I didn’t even know to turn the shower on.
“It has taken away a lot of my life – I can’t drive anymore because it has affected my vision, I have no sensation of touch, and I have a weak left leg… but I can still walk so I’m very grateful.”
To make matters worse for the star, before her stroke she had been in relatively good health and had never suffered from any major ailments. She added: “Leading up to this I was healthy – I was horse riding, building a business and there was no family history of stroke whatsoever… but I am a smoker.
“Obviously this isn’t good for you and it does put you in a high risk category of being a stroke or heart attack victim and I have cut down dramatically.”
The Stroke Association explains that smoking makes individuals twice as likely to die if they have a stroke. Specifically, if people smoke 20 cigarettes a day they are six times more likely to have a stroke compared to a non-smoker.
This is because Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic and cyanide. These chemicals are transferred from the lungs into the bloodstream, changing and damaging cells all around the body. It is these changes that increase the risk of stroke.
Cigarette smoke can also affect your body’s cholesterol levels. Although a vital substance, if the body has too much cholesterol in the blood it can cause heart disease and stroke. Smoking reduces the levels of “good” cholesterol (also called HDL) in your bloodstream and increases levels of “bad” cholesterol (also called LDL). Having low levels of HDL cholesterol in the body increases the risk of stroke.
In addition, smokers are more likely to develop high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes damage to arteries, making them narrower and harder for blood to pass through. If you are a smoker with high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow at a much faster rate, significantly increasing your risk of stroke.
It is due to these factors that the NHS suggests the best way to “significantly reduce” your risk of having a stroke is by doing the following:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Taking regular exercise
- Following the recommended guidelines on alcohol intake (not drinking more than 14 units a week)
- Not smoking
- Manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For help and support to stop smoking, visit trained advisors at your local NHS Stop Smoking Service (including prescriptions for medicines and patches to help with withdrawal symptoms).
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