A 73 year-old Glasgow man has told how he turned his health around after being told 'quit smoking or you will lose your leg.'

Mike McLean says a specialist warned that he could be three years away from amputation because his arteries were so clogged from decades of cigarettes.

Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels which can lead to peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

When symptoms are left untreated, the leg tissue may begin to die. This causes gangrene and, in its severest form, critical limb ischemia (CLI), which results in amputation in around 30% of cases.

Mike says the stark choice led to him finally quitting smoking for good. But like many people who stop smoking he says he swapped fags for food, over-indulging in pies, sausages, biscuits and his favourite chunky Kit Kats.

Glasgow Times:

At his heaviest Mike tipped the scales at 20 stones and says he was struggling to walk or tie his shoelaces.

He sought help from his GP who referred him to the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde-funded slimming club, WW, previously known as Weight Watchers.

Read more: Mum and daughter say losing nine stone between them 'transformed their lives'

In less than a year he dropped five stones and says his doctor “almost fell off her chair” when she saw him after his dramatic weight loss.

He said: “For only the second time this century, I visited my GP to get help as I was having difficulty doing simple things like walking!

“The first time was in the summer of 2007, and my GP sent me to a specialist, who advised me to stop smoking. 

“What he actually said was that I had a choice. As he put it: “Stop smoking, or you’ll be back here within three years and I’ll be cutting your right leg off.

“Given such a stark choice, I stopped smoking. 

“But as so often happens in such situations, I started piling on the weight.

“My GP recommended a referral to WW through the WW/NHS Greater Glasgow Clyde referral scheme, which I accepted.”

Read more: Meet the 93-year-old fitness instructor keeping Anniesland moving 

Mike joined WW at the end of October 2018 and says he was successful in losing weight because he finally learned about portion control and how to cook from scratch.

He said: “I had never cooked anything in my life, but I decided I would try and make soup for the first time.

“That was a new experience, but very rewarding, and now I make my own soup at least once a week, every week.

“I also learned that it’s not necessary to eat everything in sight to satisfy a hunger.”

Glasgow Times:

Mike says he lost the weight steadily and sensibly and gained support and motivation from the weekly workshops.

He said: “When I joined, there was a gentleman there, around my age, who had lost around five stone, and that provided inspiration; those who joined around the same time as I provided the motivation.”

“When I got under 15 stone for the first time in probably 30 years, I felt comfortable, and after

consultation with my amazing coach Audrey Watson and my GP, we set the goal of 14st 7lbs, which I achieved initially on September 23, 2019, 47 weeks after I started the journey.

“It was a brilliant learning experience.

“I used to eat all the wrong foods like pies, sausages, biscuits, chocolates, comfort food, and I used to love a chunky kit kat, but now more. I now eat porridge, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, home made soup, and ww meals.

“I have two important words that I would tell anyone…choices and control. I got under my goal weight because I listened, learnt and embraced the whole concept.

“I can now walk a mile without blinking an eyelid. My mobility has improved dramatically, and I have better all-round health.

“Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”