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In an interview with Good Morning America on Monday, the All My Children star opened up about recently undergoing an emergency heart procedure for the second time — following a 2019 surgery that required two stents in her heart.
“I was having kind of a shortness of breath. I thought, what is that?” the actress recalled, explaining that she felt “discomfort” around her ribcage and back.
“I thought, this is crazy. These are the same kind of symptoms I had three years ago, but it can’t be," she said, adding, "When I laid down, I started to feel a sharp coming and going pain in my jaw.”
That’s when she and her husband, Helmut Huber, decided to go to the emergency room. After a few routine tests at the hospital, Lucci’s doctor discovered she had 80 percent blockage in one of her arteries due to plaque buildup. She was rushed to surgery where another stent was put in to open up the blockage.
Lucci is now using her own experience with heart disease to urge women to listen to their bodies while encouraging the wider world to learn about the warning signs of heart failure.
“Listen to your heart and act on it,” she said. “Be your own best friend. Be your own advocate. You’ll save your life.”
“I feel so lucky to have the platform that I have,” Lucci added of her heart advocacy, which includes trips to Capitol Hill to support the nation's commitment to fight cardiovascular disease. “The fans that I have made over the years are so passionate and so wonderful. I’m so grateful for them in my life and I just wanted to be able to do something more than entertain.”
Lucci's determination in using her story to advocate for others has always been in full swing.
In 2019, after doctors found blockages clogging nearly 90 percent of the artery supplying most of the blood to Lucci’s heart — as well as 75 percent of another artery — the actress left the hospital the next day and appeared onstage, two days later, at the American Heart Association’s 15th annual Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection runway event.
“It was so shocking to me. I’ve never had a health issue. I eat super foods — blueberry, salmon and kale,” Lucci told Variety at the time.
“What I will say is that my message to women is put yourself on your to-do list and listen to your body, and if there’s anything unusual, go ahead and take care of it," she said. "Heart disease kills more women than all cancer combined. I don’t think a lot of people know that. I didn’t know it."
"Nobody has to die of a heart attack," she reiterated to Heart.org after her first surgery. "You just have to listen to your symptoms and act on them."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. About 1 in 16 women age 20 and older have coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the U.S.
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