Comedian Robert Webb reveals how doctor told him ‘This heart will fail’ and that he needed massive life-saving operation – just after the Peep Show star had finished his novel about a man his age killed by a disease he didn’t know he had

  • Webb, 47, had heart surgery for a mitral valve prolapse in October last year
  • The comedian accelerated his unknown condition due to his alcohol ‘addiction’
  • He found out about the disease after editing his debut novel Come Again 

Comedian Robert Webb was told his heart would ‘fail’ due to an undiagnosed heart condition, at the same time he had finished a book that closely mirrored his reality.

The Peep Show star, 47, had just finished editing his novel Come Again where a central character dies from an illness that had been lurking unseen for years.

He underwent surgery in October last year after a routine medical check on the set of his sitcom Back revealed he had a prolapse in his heart.

The actor and writer was referred to a cardiologist and given an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart, which showed years of alcoholism had accelerated the undiagnosed condition.

Comedian Robert Webb, 47, was told he could die from an undiagnosed heart condition accelerated by alcoholism – at the same time he had finished writing a book where the main character dies from an unknown illness

The Peep Show star was told his heart would ‘fail’ as a result of the mitral valve prolapse he had made worse by his alcoholism

He was told he had a mitral valve prolapse, which can be asymptomatic but could cause him to suffer a heart attack within months.

Webb wrote in the Observer: ‘The heart doctor has a distinctive handshake, offered palm up with the fingers splayed. It looks like an apology and as soon as I sit down it becomes clear why he’s sorry. 

‘“I’m not saying you’re going to have a heart attack in the next fortnight,” he says slowly.

‘”But if the problem isn’t addressed, then in the next two or four or six months… this heart will fail”.’ 

Webb describes his relationship with alcohol as ‘certainly an addiction’. 

Webb’s brush with death came at the same time he finished editing Come Again, his debut novel in which forty-something Luke dies from an unseen condition.

Luke’s widow, Kate, returns to 1992 where she meets her husband for the first time, but with the knowledge of his disease.

The romance follows her attempts to navigate knowing he might die as she tries to fall in love with him again.

And Webb said he thought his imagination may have been trying to tell him something about his own ‘dodgy ticker’ while writing it.

Webb with David Mitchell, 45, at the Upstart Crow play after party in London on February 17 this year. The comedian has quit drinking, having ‘drank a lot of beer during the day’ on his own during the worst of his alcoholism

Webb’s condition, a mitral valve prolapse, caused him to feel lethargic, which he put down to his age and not treating his body with respect. 

Although the condition was not caused by his drinking, he was told that alcohol abuse had accelerated it and he has now quit alcohol completely. 

 ‘I thought, “This is what you feel like when you’re 47 and you treat your body like a skip”,’ he told The Sunday Times.

‘I’d get really tired very quickly — I was very tired — but I thought, “F**k it, I’m 47”. I didn’t realise how unwell I was.’

Webb said his alcohol abuse was ‘certainly an addiction’.

Webb starred with Mitchell in nine seasons of Peep Show from September 2003 to December 2015

He said: ‘It crawled up so gradually that I was slow-killing myself. I drank a lot of beer during the day, on my own. I was thinking of [alcohol] at any given time of the day.’

The mitral valve is a small flap in the heart that stops blood flowing the wrong way and if there are issues with it it can affect how blood flows around the body.

A prolapse in the valve is when it becomes too floppy and does not close tightly.

According to the NHS, it is commonplace for someone to not know they have the condition, as it can be asymptomatic.

It can, however, lead to tiredness, as Webb experienced. Other side-effects include dizziness, breathlessness, noticeable palpitations or mitral regurgitation.

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