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What is an arteriovenous fistula? - Susannah Constantine narrowly avoided a stroke

The TV presenter had been ignoring pins and needles before doctors spotted the problem.

Susannah Constantine. (Getty Images)
Susannah Constantine. (Getty Images)

What Not to Wear co-presenter Susannah Constantine has recounted her brush with an arteriovenous fistula, which led to emergency hospitalisation.

A couple of years ago, she was inadvertently dismissing a truly horrific health condition that could've resulted in either paralysis, a stroke, or a brain haemorrhage, after initially experiencing pins and needles in her arm.

This led to bleeding inside Constantine's capillaries, affecting her brain and spinal cord, which meant any surgeries were highly risky.

Read more: Susannah Constantine reveals she 'blacked out' and wet herself amid alcoholism battle

"I had this thing called an arterial fistula and I still don't understand what it was, I was very lucky not to have a stroke or be paralysed," she told The Sun.

"It was so rare, and it's weird because 30 years ago I helped set up this organisation for neurological charities with a guy and then I hadn't seen or spoken to him for 30 years. Then I got back in touch with him, and thank God I did."

Presenters of television show 'What Not To Wear', Susannah Constantine (L) and Trinny Woodall, watch proceedings near the Guildhall in Windsor, southern England, before the marriage of Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, April 9, 2005. Prince Charles and his long-term partner Camilla, who will become the Duchess of Cornwall on the marriage, will marry on Saturday in a low-key ceremony. REUTERS/Stephen Hird  SH/CRB/ASA
The TV presenter pictured with her What Not to Wear colleague Trinny Woodall. (REUTERS/Stephen Hird SH/CRB/ASA)

What is an arteriovenous fistula?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the arteriovenous (AV) fistula is an irregular connection between an artery and vein. Blood naturally flows from our arteries to little blood vessels known as capillaries, before moving onto our veins. However, an arteriovenous fistula will cut out the middle man so to speak, avoiding capillaries, which means tissues below them receive less blood supply.

Symptoms include: purplish, bulging veins easily seen through the skin; swelled-up arms or legs; a decreasing of blood pressure, and fatigue.

Causes vary from skin-piercing injuries to genetic conditions (Osler-Weber-Rendu disease, for example) and dialysis-related surgery, and if gone untreated, arteriovenous fistulas risk heart failure, blood clots, and intestinal bleeding.

Susannah Constantine denies 'B******s' 'Strictly' tantrum reports
Constantine was a Strictly Come Dancing contestant in 2018. (BBC)

Elsewhere in her interview, former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Constantine revealed how she's now living with a hearing aid after a build-up of ear damage.

"I started losing my hearing I realised in about 2019 and my children kept saying to me, 'Oh mum you're so deaf,'" she said.

"The penny dropped when I realised I couldn't differentiate between the different birds singing. I live in the countryside and it's something I love to listen to, because I wake up in the morning, every morning, filled with anxiety, and I go outside and I listen to the bird song."

Watch: Princess Margaret chopped up 'unflushable' turd with silver cake slice, Susannah Constantine reveals