How common is ‘This Is Us’ character’s cause of death?

How common is ‘This Is Us’ character’s cause of death?

Sunday night’s episode of NBC’s successful series ‘This Is Us’ finally offered viewers total insight into Jack Pearson’s cause of death.

After rescuing his wife and the two of his children who were home as their house caught on fire, Jack headed back in to rescue the family dog. Once he surprisingly emerged with the pet and some of the family’s valued possessions, Jack reluctantly headed to the hospital to be evaluated.

While at the hospital, Jack goes into cardiac arrest due to smoke inhalation and dies. The show describes his cause of death as a widowmaker heart attack.

Dr. Paul Silverman, chief of cardiology at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center, says the term widowmaker is colloquial, much like “double pneumonia” or “massive heart attack.”

“A ‘widowmaker’ is usually used to refer to a blockage of the left main or left anterior descending coronary artery,” he says.

Dr. Silverman also believes smoke inhalation to be a rare trigger, but if the heart is under strenuous circumstances, and a preexisting blockage is already present, the situation can lead to this kind of heart attack.

He says symptoms of an imminent or actual heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Back pain or jaw discomfort with exertion

Dr. Silverman advises if these symptoms are accelerating or coming on while at rest or with minimal exertion, or if you have any doubts, call 911.

The American Heart Association says in 2016, just 25 percent of those who went into cardiac arrest while at a hospital survived. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of your heart health risks and work with your physician to stay healthy. Find out your risk for heart disease by taking our simple and easy Heart Risk Assessment.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.