Ian Fleming, RIP & heart disease

If you follow with any attention at all the James Bond movies, you are probably aware that they are based on books, which were written by the late Ian Fleming, a British journalist who served in naval intelligence during WWII. He was born in 1908, so this year marks the centenary of his birth. As part of the centenary activities, the British Heart Foundation is trying to raise awareness (and money) to combat heart disease. The rationale is that Fleming died of a heart attack. Although he was athletic as a youth, never obese, and kept active throughout his life with activities like snorkeling at his villa in Oracabessa, Jamaica, he was an avid smoker and drinker. His first biographer John Pearson records in Alias James Bond-The Life of Ian Fleming this medical assessment by a "New York heart specialist whom Fleming, unbeknownst to his friends, visited in the autumn of 1946":
The patient admits to smoking seventy cigarettes a day and drinking at least a quarter bottle of gin. He is not seriously ill but during the last two months has complained of a pain in the heart. He has slightly low blood pressure, the cardiograph shows an inverted T wave, but there are no important clinical symptoms of heart weakness. The above symptoms could all be the result of nicotine poisoning. I instructed the patient that the situation could not be improved by medication--only by will power.
This write-up was 18 years(!) before his death by heart attack on today's date, August 12, 1964. At 56 years old, Fleming was quite young, even for a time when people had shorter life expectancies. He left behind a wife who divorced her husband to be with him and a 12-year-old son.

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