What we can learn from Kevin Smith’s “widow maker” heart attack

Sometimes the show should not go on. In between filming comedy specials Sunday night Kevin Smith felt nauseous. He chalked it up to mucus from smoking two joints earlier. After he threw up he speculated that he’d had some bad milk. He reported feeling no pain and had no idea he was having a major heart attack.

“I started feeling pressure on my chest … honestly, I was never in pain,” Smith said in a Facebook Live video. “I didn’t piece together I was having a heart attack … even though my chest was heavy and even though my father died of age of 67 died of a massive heart attack. I never in a million years thought it was a heart attack.”

When he started feeling that pressure he asked those around him to call for a doctor. They had to call an ambulance instead because there was no doctor available on a Sunday night. When paramedics arrived, they suspected a heart issue and Smith couldn’t believe it.

As Smith was whisked away on a stretcher into the ambulance the waiting audience was told Smith was seeking treatment for food poisoning and couldn’t finish the show.

Monday night Smith told the world that the blockage that caused the heart attack was extremely serious and could have killed him. He tweeted from his hospital bed Monday night: “The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka ‘the Widow-Maker’). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight.”

He later detailed his near-death experience on Facebook Live. During the video he joked about working about people seeing his private parts, but also revealed what went through his head when he realized he might die.

“You know, and like, what did I want to do? Did I want to bargain with God in that moment, be like, ‘please, fucking save me’ and stuff like that. After Dogma, that was probably not going to happen. So, I just thought about everything, thought about, you know, like my parents and how they raised me, and my brother and my sister. And my friends and my wife and my kid and like this weird, wonderful career that I’ve had for so long. And I was content.”

Smith has decided to become a “pill guy” from now on and stick to a medication regimen to prevent another major heart event from happening.

What we can all learn from Kevin Smith’s experience is not to ignore signs and symptoms of a heart attack even if pain isn’t present, as in Smith’s case. According to The American Heart Association, the following are common warning signs of a heart attack:

Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.