Alastair Stewart shares first warning signs that led to dementia diagnosis


Alastair Stewart has shared the first warning signs he experienced before being diagnosed with dementia.

The veteran broadcaster, 72, announced he had early onset vascular dementia in September 2023 following his retirement after almost five decades on air.

Stewart, who was the face of ITV’s news segments from more than 35 years, said that, after seeing his GP, a scan revealed he had had a series of “minor strokes that are called infarct strokes”, which led to his diagnosis.

The former rewsreader has now opened up about his diagnosis in aid of Dementia Action Week, which begins on Monday (13 May), sharing the initial concerns that prompted him to see doctors.

Stewart said it is “utterly vital, not metaphorically — to get a diagnosis”, saying that the dementia he has may be “less likely to kill you”, but “is debilitating”.

He told The Times: “If you get a diagnosis, which I did, then a lot of things suddenly make sense. You realise why your short-term memory has gone to shot.

Stewart said that the first warning sign was highlighted by his wife, Sally, who he said his is “incredibly lucky to have”.

“Sally spotted that suddenly I couldn’t tell the time on an analogue clock any more,” he explained. “I just couldn’t figure out what it was telling me. So I now have a digital watch.”

Stewart said he also “couldn’t do up my shoelaces accurately”, as well as his belt. He added: “That is worrying and the more you worry, the worse, potentially, it becomes.”

The retired broadcaster said his colleagues “were brilliant and very supportive”, but also noticed something was wrong.

Alastair Stewart said his colleagues noticed something was ‘amiss’ (Getty Images)

“They said, ‘Look, something’s amiss. You’ve come in very early.’ Or, ‘You don’t look great. You’re a bit dishevelled,’ or whatever it might be. So in the end, I took a deep breath and went to see the GP who said, ‘Well, maybe you’re just getting older. We don’t know. There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to have an MRI scan.’

“And thank goodness and three cheers to the NHS, I didn’t have to wait.”

Speaking about receiving the diagnosis, Stewart said: “I genuinely think it was a huge relief for me and for Sally in the sense that she’d half-guessed anyway, but we could then look each other in the eyes and say, ‘OK, we now know what the problem is and we can do certain things that will hopefully stop it getting any worse, and we know that there are people that we can talk to.’ “

Alzheimer’s Research UK found in 2023 that one in 10 deaths in the UK were due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The charity, which has a goal of finding a cure for the illnesses, has asked for any drugs “deemed safe and effective” to treat the disease to be made available on the NHS as soon as possible.

If you have aorries about yourself or someone close to you, visit the Alzheimer’s Society (alzheimers.org.uk) or call the Dementia support line on 0333 150 3456



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