Michael Palin reveals he's having major heart surgery this September as he cancels book tour

MICHAEL Palin is having major heart surgery in September and has been forced to cancel his book tour.

The Monty Python legend, 76, is set to undergo an operation to fix a leaky heart valve later this year.

In a statement to The Mirror, Sir 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.

"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."

Michael was due to travel around the UK in October but will now be recovering from surgery.

Michael is married to Helen Gibbins and the couple got hitched in 1966.

They have three children together, and after Python ended in 1974, Michael began a new career as a travel writer and presenter.

His first travel documentary was an episode of 1980's series Great Railway Journeys of the World for the BBC, entitled Confessions of a Trainspotter.

His journeys have taken him across the world, including the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe, Brazil and most recently North Korea.

What is heart valve replacement surgery?

There are four valves in your heart – if one or more is diseased or damaged it can affect how the blood flows through your heart.

Heart valve replacement surgery is when the diseased valve is replaced with a new valve.

The most common types of replacement valves are mechanical (artificial) valves or tissue (animal) valves.

You should be able to sit out of bed the day after the procedure. On average, it takes between 2-3 months to fully recover.

From 2009 to 2012 Palin was the president of the Royal Geographical Society.

Among his many books are three volumes of his memoirs, from 1969 to 1998 as well as several travel books on regions including the Himalayas and the Sahara desert.

He has also written four fiction books.

Speaking about his health in February on the Too Late To Die Young podcast, he said: "I am glad to be alive each morning, I shave without slitting my throat and then lope downstairs without banging my head.

"I realise I’ve reached the age of 75 without feeling like someone of 75.

"Physically, I am a little bit slower than I used to be. But I’m still fairly fit, and probably fitter and looking after myself better than in my mid-20s.

"But I do think about it because my friends are all ageing as well."

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