In a new interview, the 53-year-old discussed the risks of starring in the ballroom show as he struggles with “various health issues’, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which caused the deaths of two of his cousins.
“I’m really starting to have this realisation – you have to get the absolute most out of life before you’re decrepit,” he said.
“I’ve got various health issues, which I’m constantly aware of. I’ve got a genetic heart condition – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – which has killed two of my cousins, Crohn’s disease, and various other things I won’t bore you with.”
“I even asked my cardiologist if I might drop dead live on BBC One. No, was his answer – but he couldn’t give me an absolute guarantee,” he added to the Guardian.
“I have to be careful of raising my heartbeat into the red zone; that final 15 per cent. I shouldn’t go there. It’s where people with my condition drop dead.”
Guru-Murthy who said he’s been asked “to do these sorts of shows for years, has seen his decision to hit the ballroom floor fully supported by his wife Lisa who encouraged him to get out his comfort zone.
He explained: “What if I kept saying no? It might not be physically possible for me to do it now – that remains to be seen. But it certainly won’t be possible in five years.”
According to the NHS cardiomyopathy is “a general term for diseases of the heart muscle, where the walls of the heart chambers have become stretched, thickened or stiff. This affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body”.
While they point out that most people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy don’t have symptoms and don’t need treatment, it is “the most common cause of sudden unexpected death in childhood and in young athletes.”
The newsreader, who began his career at the age of 18 when he presented youth programmes for the BBC, also said doing Strictly is about going back to who he was “before TV happened”.
Guru-Murthy revealed all the Strictly competitors met their professional dance partners a few weeks ago. Also in the Strictly line-up is ex-tennis player Annabel Croft, actor Nigel Harman, EastEnder Bobby Brazier, Paralympian Jody Cundy and former Coronation Street star Ellie Leach.
Radio host Nikita Kanda, Waterloo Road actor Adam Thomas, Love Island star Zara McDermott, Irish TV presenter Angela Scanlon, Bad Education’s Layton Williams and comedian Eddie Kadi will also take to the dance floor.
Strictly Come Dancing returns this month on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.