Jean Marsh health: Upstairs, Downstairs star ‘fought’ back after heart attack and stroke

As well as the ITV and later BBC series, Marsh has appeared in several films and West End theater productions, but back in 2011 tragedy struck for the actress, who suffered from a stroke and heart attack, three weeks after the first episode of the revived Upstairs, Downstairs had been filmed. Having created the much-loved original series with her friend Dame Eileen Atkins, even after her health di lei took a worrying turn, Marsh was eager to get back to work.

In an interview with the MailOnline back in 2013, Marsh addressed her ill health and her determined spirit she showed during her recovery.

“It’s odd because the day it happened, I said: ‘I’m not ill,’ and I fought,” she explained at the time.

“It was amazing. I had had a stroke and a heart attack but I knew I’d be all right. I think it’s because I’m an actress.

“If you didn’t know me and you sat down and we had a chat, you would have no idea how old I was, or know that I’d been ill, would you?”

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Reflecting on the time immediately after her stroke and heart attack, Marsh said that she only spent a mere three weeks in hospital.

She continued to say: “I was absolutely determined [to get back]. Three weeks after the first episode I had a stroke and a heart attack and in three weeks I’d thrown myself out of the hospital.

“I said I will be alright and the main doctor said, ‘All right, you can work again. But you can only work four hours a day’. And I said, ‘Terrific!'”

Speaking about Marsh’s brief absence from the show was writer Heidi Thomas, who recalled the ordeal as an “emotional experience for all”.


A heart attack may also be accompanied by unusual tiredness, nausea, or vomiting; research shows these symptoms might be more common in women than men. Often, these signs are mistaken for other ailments such as chest pain, heartburn, or even a gallbladder attack.

If an individual is having a heart attack but remains conscious, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends they take an aspirin and wait for the emergency services to arrive.

For both of these conditions, prevention is key in minimizing your risk. In most cases, both heart attack and stroke risk factors include: chronic and short-term stress, smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Genetics and other hidden factors also play a role in your level of risk.

Therefore, the best ways to reduce your risk of suffering from stroke or heart attack are to make healthy lifestyle choices such as: minimizing stress by practicing stress-reduction techniques, exercising on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding (or minimizing ) harmful activities such as smoking and drinking alcohol.

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