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Prince Philip 'should make full recovery'

By Jennifer Cockerell and Lizzie Robinson

There is no reason why the Duke of Edinburgh should not make a full recovery and resume normal life after his health scare, medical experts said today.



One expert suggested that the Duke could be back at Sandringham for Christmas Day.

Philip, 90, underwent a coronary stenting procedure to treat a blocked coronary artery after being taken to hospital with chest pains last night.

If he does not suffer complications from the procedure the Duke should be back to his normal self soon, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said.

Prof Weissberg said: "Assuming he hasn't had any major damage to the heart, then he should be able to get back to his normal activities very quickly.

"Providing he doesn't have any complications he should be able to go home in the next 24 or 48 hours, I should say.

"It would be sensible for him to take it easy over the next week or 10 days, and then gradually take up more activities."

He said it would be important for doctors to get the balance of his medication right, as patients who undergo the procedure are usually put on anti-platelet drugs to prevent blood clotting.

"I have no idea what medication he might already be on, but he is likely to be put on statins now," he said, referring to a type of drug used to lower cholesterol levels.

"If he was just Joe Bloggs he would be referred to rehabilitation sessions, which show people how to protect their heart in the future, what activities to do to stay healthy, but I very much doubt that the Duke is going to turn up at the hospital for that."

Prof Weissberg said the consequences could have been serious if the Duke had not been treated.

He said: "We heard in the news that he'd gone in with chest pains, so he was either having what we call unstable angina or a heart attack.

"It means that one of the blood vessels has got so narrowed it might be just about to block off, in which case you don't hang around."

But he stressed that it was a "very routine procedure".

He continued: "These procedures are carried out on elderly people more and more as people are living to his age. He is on the elderly end of the spectrum, but at the end of the day he is a very fit man."

Dr Simon Davies, consultant interventional cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said the blockage was likely to have been made up of cholesterol and a blood clot.

Describing the stenting procedure, he said: "What they have done is they put a miniature sausage-shaped balloon down the artery, pushed the balloon into the narrowed section and then blown it up.

"That forces the material that is blocking the artery outwards and then gets the blood flowing down the artery again.

"The stent is like a little metal sleeve fitted over the balloon when it is blown up.

"This metallic sleeve is opened up and then when the balloon is deflated and withdrawn the stent stays behind."

Dr Davies said it was "impossible to say" how long Philip could be kept in hospital, but added: "The fact is he must have looked after himself to be looking so well."

Another medical expert, Dr David Lloyd, said the Duke might be able to spend Christmas Day at Sandringham.

He told Sky News: "It all depends on complications, but yes, if it's a straightforward thing you can be out the next day."

He said of the procedure: "It looks simple, but in fact it's incredibly clever. I mean the fact that it is able to expand the artery and then stay expanded, and then the tissue grows over the top of it once it's sitting in there, is a really magnificent thing.

"It's the culmination of years and years and years of research to produce these remarkable stems."

He said only a local anaesthetic was needed for it to be carried out.

The GP added: "You're on the table, you're awake, and a tube is inserted in one of your arteries either in your arm, or in your leg, and then after a couple of hours lying to stop the bleeding after the artery's been pierced, you're up and about again."

Other well known people to have undergone the procedure include David Bowie, who fell ill after suffering an acutely blocked artery in June 2004.

The singer was seen by doctors for a trapped nerve in his shoulder after playing a gig in Germany. But it was discovered that the pain was actually related to his heart.

More recently, in November, football manager Harry Redknapp had two stents inserted into his arteries after complaining of chest pains.

The Tottenham Hotspur boss described the heart scare as "a warning sign from within".

He consulted a doctor after suffering the symptoms while using his running machine, and was referred to a specialist who recommended he underwent the treatment.

He was back on the touchline within two weeks, despite being told to take it easy.

He said at the time: "I feel better now than I did before. I couldn't feel better.

"I've been feeling great for the last 10 days and have been looking forward to getting back."

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