Brian May of Queen recovering after heart attack: ‘I was actually very near death’

Freddie Mercury and Queen Fast Facts

Queen guitarist Brian May said Monday that he's recovering after a heart attack put him "very near death" earlier this month.

May, 72, was treated at a hospital earlier this month after a garden accident left him with an injury to his buttocks. He said weeks later he was still in so much pain that he "wanted to jump at some point." An MRI of his lower spine revealed he had a compressed sciatic nerve.

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"It was excruciating," May said, likening the pain to someone putting a screwdriver in his back. "In the middle of the whole saga of the painful backside I had a small heart attack."

May said that he experienced about 40 minutes of chest pain, tightness and sweating. Testing revealed he had three congested arteries in danger of blocking the supply of blood to his heart. He said he debated whether to undergo open heart surgery to treat the blockages but that he instead decided to get stents put in.

May thanked healthcare workers for their treatment of him “because I walked out with a heart that’s very strong now, so I think I’m in good shape for some time to come.”

He said he had no idea he was at risk for cardiac issues because he maintains a healthy lifestyle that includes regular bicycling and healthy eating.

"I had great electrocardiograms and whatever, you know, nothing could tell me that I was about to be in real, real trouble," May said. "Cause I could have died from that -- from the blockages that were there."

He said the experience taught him, that “we’ve all got to really look at ourselves as we get to the later, to the Autumn, years and what seems to be a very health heart may not be.”

“I’m very grateful. I’m incredibly grateful that I now have a life to lead again,” May said. “I was actually very near death because of this … but I’m good. I’m here and I’m ready to rock.”

Brian May of Queen attends a press conference ahead of the Rhapsody Tour at Conrad Hotel on January 16, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Brian May of Queen attends a press conference ahead of the Rhapsody Tour at Conrad Hotel on January 16, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images, File)