NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Susan Lucci isn’t taking any chances when it comes to her health.
The actress, best known for starring as Erica Kane on “All My Children,” is opening up about her heart health.
The 75-year-old previously confirmed to “Good Morning America” that she recently underwent an emergency heart procedure for the second time.
A spokesperson for the star told Fox News Digital this was a second procedure and the third stent she received. The first episode occurred in 2018 and was announced in February 2019 to coincide with American Heart Month.
Then, in January of this year, Lucci started experiencing symptoms again, such as shortness of breath and a discomfort around her rib cage. But this time, she felt a sharp jaw pain, which she hadn’t had before. Urged by her husband, Lucci called her cardiologist and was urged to head to the ER. That evening, Lucci went to the hospital and had a third stent inserted in an adjacent artery the next morning.
Warning signs of a heart attack include pain or discomfort in the chest and other parts of the upper body, as well the neck, jaw and stomach, the American Heart Association notes. Other signs can include shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat or even nausea.
In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, Lucci said she is publicly sharing her journey in hopes it will encourage other women to take control of their health before it’s too late.
“From my experience, I want to say to women: give yourself permission to take care of yourself,” Lucci wrote. “Be guilt-free, put yourself at the top of your to-do list, and be your best advocate. We need to do better because women are not men. Every cell in our body is different, and so are our heart event symptoms.”
According to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women site, cardiovascular disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Lifestyle changes, such as staying active, eating healthy, getting one’s blood pressure checked regularly and quitting smoking can lower the chances of heart disease.
The soap opera icon first recalled how she felt a tightness in her chest during the fall of 2018 while she and her husband Helmut Huber were having a date night.
“I didn’t think much of it because I had never had anything,” Lucci told Fox News Digital in 2020. “In fact, it had disappeared by the time I was at the table. [But] there was a mild pressure on my chest that also radiated around my rib cage to my back. Like most women, I thought, ‘Oh, it’ll go away.’ And it did.”
A few weeks later, the symptoms resurfaced. Lucci shrugged it off, believing her bra was too tight. The symptoms later appeared again while she was shopping, but this time, it felt as if there was an elephant pressing on her chest.
By the time Lucci arrived at the hospital, the pain did go away. But it was also on that day when a CT scan revealed Lucci had a 90% blockage in her major artery, as well as a 75% blockage in an adjacent artery. Two stents were quickly inserted into her arteries, and she was released the next day.
“As I was being released, the nurses told me how lucky I was that I had avoided the widow-maker,” Lucci recalled. “I would’ve had a fatal heart attack. I’ll tell you if I had been alone shopping, just alone, I probably would’ve continued on my to-do list. If I had been home by myself, I would have just had some water, laid down and I probably wouldn’t have gotten up.”
While Lucci has a healthy diet and stays active with Pilates six days a week, she noted that in her case, genetics were a major factor.
“What I had was not caused by a cholesterol buildup or anything, except it was DNA,” said Lucci. “I got my dad’s genes for a calcium buildup in my arteries. … There’s much more than just appearance. … A test needs to be done. I had a scan that showed I had a 90% blockage. I had no idea.”
Lucci said that if she hadn’t finally addressed her symptoms, a warning that something was wrong, the outcome could have been much different.
“It’s really important to listen to your body,” she said. “If it’s not behaving in a way that’s normal to you, don’t be afraid that they’ll think you’re overreacting. Go to the hospital, go to the ER. … Go and listen to your body and act on it.”