A LOVE of fine food and the demands of his hectic schedule since arriving in Hongkong last summer have helped push the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, towards heart trouble it was revealed yesterday he is suffering. While doctors suspect the illness may be hereditary, the pressure of being in the front line of UK politics and then leading Hongkong in the final years of British rule has taken a serious toll on the former Cabinet minister. He already has a history of ulcers. Mr Patten's exercise regime since arriving in the territory last July involves regular tennis sessions and walking Hongkong's country parks. But he also delights in the host of fine food also available - most of it not recommended for a healthy heart. Part of his joy at living in the territory, he told the Morning Post in December, was that ''you eat better in Hongkong than almost anywhere in the world''. Among his favourite haunts are the Sai Kung waterfront for seafood, Stanley for Thai food and Central for the best cuisine the territory's French restaurants have to offer. Mr Patten himself warned of the risks his lifestyle posed to his health during a December magazine article. ''I pay the consequences when I do those things. I have the wrong sort of metabolism to enjoy eating,'' he said. On the stress of being governor of Hongkong, he said: ''I sometimes wake up too early in the morning and fret. I hope the present pace doesn't keep up.'' When in Britain, either in London or in Bath before he lost his seat during last April's general election, Mr Patten's fondness for books was a favourite relaxation. When not reading he hunted through local bookshops. But he often laments Hongkong's lackof what he regards as a proper bookshop. There was general surprise in British political circles yesterday that Mr Patten was sick. But friends admitted the former chairman of the ruling Conservative Party and architect of April's election triumph was often concerned about being overweight. His constituency agent while he was MP for Bath, Mr Malcolm Hayward, said: ''He was concerned about his weight, he was always going on a diet, but he was never warned by a doctor. ''In fact, he hardly ever went to the doctor. His dieting was always just a very personal thing. ''But there was never anything wrong with him here.'' Although Mr Patten had smoked in the past, Mr Hayward said he had given up about 10 years ago. ''Even then it was not particularly heavy, maybe 10 or 15 a day. The trouble is that in politics smoking goes up and down - if you are harangued by the press it might be 45 a day,'' he explained. Mr Patten used last month's Lunar New Year holiday to take a much-needed family break in Bali - but it was one of the few times he was able to completely relax in the past 18 months. In the run up to the general election he divided his time between London and Bath, with the loss of the seat reportedly having hit him particularly hard. Immediately after the election he took a week's holiday in France, although much of that was spent considering the Prime Minister's offer of the Hongkong job. Just before leaving the UK to take up the governorship, he spent a few days on a health farm. A spokesman at stately Shrubland Hall, the health farm near Ipswich visited by Mr Patten, said yesterday: ''We are very sorry to hear this. But it could be worse, and hopefully he will get better as a result of it.'' Mr Patten was a guest at the GBP690-a-week health farm for two weeks last May, not so much to lose weight - he is believed to have shed about eight kilograms as a result of his gruelling routine during the election campaign - but more because he was tired after the Tory's successful campaign. Members' health is not high on the agenda at Westminster. The Home Secretary, Mr Kenneth Clarke, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Norman Lamont, are both keen cigar smokers. Such is the disdain for health at Westminster that some MPs formed the Currie club - whose members are dedicated to eating everything former health minister Mrs Edwina Currie said was bad for them.