Sadiq Khan suffered a suspected heart attack while giving a speech at COP26 in Glasgow, he has revealed in his forthcoming book.
A day before a major appearance in front of world leaders as part of the main event, Mr Khan was due to speak to what he described as “a friendly crowd” of some of the UK’s most notable local politicans. However, Mr Khan wrote in his new book, Breathe, that upon beginning his talk, he “felt a knot” in his chest, before realising he was dripping with sweat.
After struggling through an opening two minutes and gradually feeling worse, Mr Khan wrote: “I don’t really remember what happened next. As I tried to step away from the lectern, everything went fuzzy. Steve Rotheram and a TfL board colleague, Greg Clark, clocking what was happening, rushed forward, and took an arm each to help me down the steps.
“As I was carried out into the corridor, I was panicking. In less than 24 hours, I had the biggest gig of my career to date. And yet here I was, failing to get through a three-page speech to a friendly crowd. It was COP26 in Glasgow, and I seemed to be having a heart attack.”
Feeling somewhat better following “fresh air, and some hastily procured chocolate canapés from the organisers”, Mr Khan wrote he turned away suggestions of going to hospital or having a doctor visit his hotel room, opting instead to call room service and have an early night.
However, he was eventually convinced by his wife, Saadiya, and mayoral health advisor Dr Tom Coffey to go to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary A&E for checks. Tests revealed that a protein called troponin, which is released into the blood after unusual heart activity, was at “borderline” levels, meaning further tests were required. The second revealed the troponin in Mr Khan’s blood had doubled, meaning “there was a possibility that earlier that evening I’d had a minor heart attack”.
“I couldn’t believe it,” the mayor wrote. “I felt fine. They wanted to admit me to a ward, but I refused. I simply didn’t believe I had had a heart attack – and I knew once I was admitted it would be a nightmare trying to get discharged.”
A third test showed the levels of troponin had increased but only slightly, so Mr Khan was able to be discharged.
City Hall confirmed the mayor has “recovered well” since the incident, and that he runs around 20km a week as well as playing football and tennis at weekends.
Mr Khan’s book, Breathe, tells of how, after being diagnosed with adult-onset asthma aged 43, he “underwent a political transformation” to focus on green issues.
Climate groups have however contested this claim ahead of Breathe’s release, in particular relating to the mayor’s controversial Silvertown Tunnel project.
According to the website of the book’s publisher, Penguin, it details seven ways Mr Khan believes climate action is often impeded, and how to navigate them.
Breathe is due for release on May 24.