Susan Lucci, 72, “Widowmaker”

Screenshot, Today.com

Feb. 6, 2019, TODAY – Susan Lucci is opening up about the emergency heart surgery that may very well have saved her life.

The longtime “All My Children” star experienced shortness of breath three times last fall.

She brushed off the first two, but the third time was so severe that she said, “It felt like an elephant pressing down on my chest.”

Lucci was whisked to an emergency room, where a CT scan revealed she was having a heart attack, often referred to as a “widowmaker.”

There was a 90 percent blockage in her heart’s main artery and a 70 percent blockage in another.

“Ninety percent blockage — I was shocked,” Lucci says. “I’m lucky to be alive.”

Her cardiologist, Holly Andersen, echoed that sentiment. “Had she gone home, that 90 percent blockage could have become 100 percent and she could have suffered a significant heart attack or even sudden death.”

At the hospital, Lucci had a pair of stents put into her arteries to increase blood flow back to the heart.

The procedure worked. “She has no damage,” Dr. Richard Shlofmitz, who performed the surgery, told People. “Her heart is pumping as good as when she was born.”

Lucci, 72, who follows a Mediterranean diet to stay healthy, wants women to know they can have heart attacks, even though it may not be one of the health risks that come to mind for them.

“As a woman you think about breast cancer, not a heart attack,” Lucci says. “Every EKG I had was great. My blood pressure was on the lower end of normal.”

Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have had no previous symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even without symptoms, women can still be at risk for heart disease.

Symptoms are not always obvious but can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Changes in ability to exercise
  • Changes in ability to breath
  • Fatigue

“We often put ourselves on the back burner,” Lucci says. “But if your body is telling you something, [you] need to pay attention.” Read more. 

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