Robert Donat had a ‘brain tumour the size of a duck egg’

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Only 53 years of age at the time of his death, Robert Donat’s biographer, Kenneth Barrow, claimed the actor had “a brain tumour the size of a duck egg”. Barrow added: “Cerebral thrombosis was certified as the primary cause of death.”

What is cerebral thrombosis?

Medical experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine explained that cerebral thrombosis describes the development of a blood clot in the brain.

Typically blocking the brain’s venous sinuses, blood is prevented from draining out of the brain.

Consequently, “blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a haemorrhage”.

This type of “rare” stroke affects five people in one million each year, with risk factors including:

  • Problems with the way their blood forms clots
  • Sickle cell aneamia
  • Heart disease
  • Iron deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Head injury
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Donat may have experienced any of the following symptoms when he had a stroke, including:
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting, or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of control over movement in part of the body
  • Seizures.

A stroke, no matter what kind – including so-called “mini strokes” – are a medical emergency.

The sooner treatment is available, the less time there is for devastating brain damage, or even death, to occur.

Survivors of a stroke may develop impaired speech, problems with their vision, or have difficulties with moving parts of their body.

Sadly for Donat, he did not survive the life-threatening condition, leaving behind his wife, Renee Asherson, and three children.

Donat did, however, leave behind his legacy of great works, from The Count Of Monte Cristo (1934) to Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.

Starring alongside Madeleine Carroll in the classic thriller, The 39 Steps centred around an innocent man accused of murder.

While being pursued by both the police and an international spy ring, Donat – who played Richard Hannay – finds himself fleeing across the Scottish moors handcuffed to a beautiful woman.

A superstar on the silver screen, fans would have been devastated to lose Donat at such a young age.

Are there ways to help prevent a stroke?

The NHS says there are four pillars to minimising your risk of having a stroke.

These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, being a non-smoker, and minimising alcohol intake.

All four lifestyle choices need to be adhered to for the best possible chances of longevity.

People who have survived a stroke are also encouraged to abide by these healthier habits.

“If you have been diagnosed with a condition known to increase your risk of stroke,” the NHS began.

“Ensuring the condition is well controlled is also important for helping prevent strokes.”

Speak to your doctor if you would like support in leading a healthier lifestyle, which includes giving up smoking and drinking less alcohol.

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