Sir Michael Palin has cancelled his upcoming book tour after revealing he needs major heart surgery. The Monty Python veteran was due to travel around the UK in October, but has now been advised by his doctors that he must go under the knife in September to repair a "leaky valve".
The 76-year-old discovered a problem with his mitral valve - a small flap that stops blood flowing the wrong way around the heart - five years ago. Until now however, he has not been affected by the problem, admitting it was only earlier this year that he started noticing issues with his general health. In a statement posted on his website, Michael said: "Five years ago, a routine health check revealed a leaky mitral valve in my heart. Until the beginning of this year it had not affected my general level of fitness."
Michael was due to go on tour in October
He added: "Recently, though, I have felt my heart having to work harder and have been advised it's time to have the valve repaired. I shall be undergoing surgery in September and should be back to normal, or rather better than normal, within three months."
According to the NHS, a leaking mitral valve - known as mitral regurgitation - can cause dizziness, breathlessness, tiredness and chest pain, and can potentially lead to an irregular and fast heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart failure.
Monty Python legends
ADVICE: How to treat holiday health woes
Speaking about his health earlier this year, Michael told Too Old To Die Young podcast: "I have realised that I have reached the age of 75 without feeling in any shape or form like someone of 75 - mentally, certainly. Physically, I think I'm a little bit slower perhaps than I used to be. But I'm still fairly fit. I'm probably fitter, and certainly look after myself better, than when I was in my mid-20s."
Michael's book tour was to promote his North Korea Journal, a spin-off from his recent Channel 5 documentary about the country.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.