Former Newstalk ZB host Leighton Smith has heart attack, spends days in hospital

Leighton Smith
Leighton Smith has revealed he'd had a heart attack in March. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former Newstalk ZB host Leighton Smith has revealed he's recovering from a heart attack and had to spend days in Auckland's North Shore Hospital.

The 76-year-old podcaster opened his show on Wednesday by telling listeners he'd woken at 3am on Saturday, March 25 with an "uncomfortableness in the chest".

"I knew it was to do with the rather hot curry we'd had for dinner the night before," he said. 

"And it appeared to me to be in the oesophagus. I couldn't get back to sleep. As time went by, it sort of developed across the top of the chest. And I wondered what it might be, not wanting to think what some people would think was obvious. So I didn't get back to sleep at all," he said.

However, Smith revealed he'd woken in the morning and had been due to go to brunch with friends and had felt that by 10am, the pain had eased enough for him to attend. But he later said he decided he needed to be checked by a local doctor on the way home.

The doctor then told him he needed to go to hospital.

"So we went to North Shore Hospital via home, which was stupid I was told. 

"We drove down there even though he encouraged us to take an ambulance. On admission, the same tests were done and a couple of other things were added to it. And a while later, the doctor came along and said, 'You're not going anywhere. You've had a heart attack'. And I was there for the next four nights."

He also said he'd received two stents and that his prognosis post the treatment was "almost perfect."

Smith also revealed doctors had told him to "avoid stress and stop working to deadlines".

"So there will be a few adjustments in lifestyle. Apart from that I learned that I was silly not to respond more quickly to what I was feeling in the first place. 

"Then not going directly to the hospital and then not going in an ambulance directly to hospital."

Smith also offered some "advice" for those who were experiencing similar symptoms.

"A word of advice for anybody who may not have had any experience along these lines at all, as I had not. If you get an unexplained pain in the chest, or any of the associated areas like the jaw, act on it immediately. Do not stuff about."

Smith retired from his mid-morning show on Newstalk ZB on December 14, 2018, before switching to doing podcasting for the station.