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Kevin Smith: 'I was never really in pain' during 'Widowmaker' heart attack

Because of the lack of pain and his relatively young age, director Kevin Smith says he didn't realize he was having a heart attack.
Credit: Mike Windle/Getty Images
Director Kevin Smith attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" at the Pantages Theatre on December 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Director Kevin Smith is up and about after "very nearly dying" from what he termed a "massive heart attack" on Sunday.

Smith said he was feeling nauseous and sweating excessively during a break between two comedy shows Sunday; it turned out he'd had a 100% blockage in a crucial coronary artery and might have died if he hadn't rushed to the hospital after the first show.

"I'm fine ... kinda," he reassured fans Tuesday during a NSFW Facebook Live video from his hospital room at California's Glendale Adventist Hospital, before recounting the entire episode.

He recalled lying down after the first show in an attempt to quell his symptoms: "I couldn't get comfortable — which is weird because I can get comfortable anywhere ... Then I started feeling pressure on my chest. Not like there was an elephant on my chest. I just couldn't catch my breath. Honestly, I was never really in pain."

Because of the lack of pain and his relatively young age (47), Smith says he didn't realize he was having a heart attack. "Even when I was sitting there going, 'My chest is heavy!' And even though my father died at age 67 of a massive heart attack! Even though my mother has heart problems. She has two stents in her arteries. I never in a million years thought it was a heart attack."

He was taken to a catheter lab at Glendale Adventist Hospital for a coronary angiography, in which cardiologists insert dye into a vein in the groin leading to the heart to determine the location and severity of the blockage. A doctor inserted a stent to prop open his blocked LAD (left anterior descending) artery and explained that the plaque buildup had begun "a long time ago," and remained even after Smith began exercising and lost 85 pounds.

None of that scared him. What did?

"Here's me, literally dying," Smith laughed, "and this was my biggest concern: Guy comes in and says, 'Lower your shorts. I'm gonna have to shave your groin; they go up through your groin.' My biggest fear in life? Death, No. 1. No. 2? Not wanting people to see my (junk)."

He thanked the first responders for their patience dealing with a guy who, "let alone the heart attack, is deathly afraid of lifting his shirt up" and his cardiologist. "(Expletive) saved my life," he proclaimed. "He's my boy."

After he leaves the hospital, Smith says he will become "Prescription Man," taking blood thinners, statins and beta blockers and he will start seeing a cardiologist regularly.

He passed on some advice: "If you're gonna have some kind of heart episode, for the love of God, have it in Glendale."

Smith also thanked all his well-wishers like Chris Pratt ("Starlord's praying for me!") and noted that the messages had allowed him to "read my eulogy before I die — what the reaction would be like if I died. And it was very sweet."

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