Coronation Street: Malcolm Hebden reveals heart attack put him in three-week coma

The star discusses the real reason for his extended break - and whether he'll return

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Coronation Street actor Malcolm Hebden has revealed he is recovering from a heart attack that put him in an induced coma and required groundbreaking surgery which saved his life.

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Hebden, 78, has been on an extended break from his role as nosy Norris Cole since late last year with the show only commenting at the time he was suffering from an unspecified illness. Speaking at an event at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Hebden talked about the full extent of his health crisis publicly for the first time to the Blackpool Gazette.

After visiting his GP late last year for a chest infection, the star was rushed by emergency ambulance that same day to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where he was told he had suffered what is known as a ‘silent heart attack’, which came with none of the usual warning signs of a cardiac arrest.

“While I was there I collapsed and was transferred to Blackpool Victoria where I was operated on, in a procedure described by my surgeon as groundbreaking. The attack tore a hole in my heart – they operated and took a chance.”

Hebden’s heart was effectively ‘wallpapered’ to repair the damage done, using tissue from a cow for the procedure. “After surgery and for most of December I was in an induced coma, in the care of brilliant, wonderful people at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Fortunately I didn’t realise how bad it was – I was dying. The cardiac team simply saved my life.”

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The cobbles favourite was taken back to Royal Blackburn while still in a coma, eventually coming round in January, where he had further rehabilitation before being discharged in late February, ending a hospitalisation period of nearly three months. He is thankfully making a ‘remarkable’ recovery with physiotherapy and continued medication.

“All praise to Blackpool hospital and the NHS,” he said. “I didn’t really meet the staff who cared for me while I was in the coma, I want to thank these people who were strangers to me but to whom I owe my life.

Norris last appeared on screen in December, but says it’s unclear as to when, or if, he’ll be back. “People are asking if I’m returning to the Street, but that’s just not known yet. I may do, I may not. It depends on my recovery.”

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