Actress Susan Lucci recently found herself in the hospital and needing to undergo an emergency heart procedure and, today, she knows how incredibly fortunate she is to be around to tell her story and in turn, hopefully, help others.
During a candid new interview with People, the 72-year-old revealed that she first didn’t pay attention to the tightness she was feeling in her chest and assured herself she was just tired. “I told myself, it’s nothing, it will go away. And it did,” she explained. However, the pain soon returned, this time “radiating around my rib cage,” she revealed. “I thought maybe I had fastened my bra too tightly.” It wasn’t until the third time she felt ill that the All My Children star decided to go to the ER. “It felt like an elephant pressing down on my chest,” Susan recalled.
Eventually, Susan learned that she had 90 percent blockage in the heart’s main artery, along with 70 percent blockage in another branch. “I was shocked,” she said. “I’m lucky to be alive.” According to cardiologist Holly Andersen, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, the legendary actress could have “suffered a significant heart attack or even sudden death” if she hadn’t seen a doctor.
And now, since Susan’s been given a second chance at life, the Dancing With the Stars alum wants to use her story to encourage other people to reach out to someone if they feel something isn’t right. “I’m not a nurse or anyone who can help in any real way,” Susan said. “This is the way I can help. I can tell my story. Everyone’s symptoms are different but I felt compelled to share mine. Even if it’s one person I help. That is someone’s life.” She continued, “As a woman, you think about breast cancer, not a heart attack. Every EKG I had was great. My blood pressure was on the lower end of normal.”
The mother-of-two — who has been married to Helmut Huber since 1969 — is now a national volunteer and spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. “We often put ourselves on the back burner. But if your body is telling you something, we need to pay attention,” she said.
Dr. Anderson believes that “Susan telling her story will save lives.” She continued, “Everyone should know how to save a life with Hands Only CPR. It takes only one minute to learn at HandsOnly.org.” We’re so glad you’re doing OK today, Susan!