Susan Lucci, the 76-year-old All My Children alum and American Heart Association (AHA) ambassador, opened up to People about her recovery from her latest heart surgery.
“I’m doing really well,” she said while attending the 75th Annual Writers Guild Awards on Sunday. “I always keep an eye on myself, what’s going on,” adding, “It is so far so good.”
Lucci had her second heart surgery in four years last January after doctors discovered an 80% blockage in her artery caused by cholesterol. They inserted a stent into her heart, which is “a short, wire mesh tube that acts like a scaffold to help keep your artery open,” per the NHS.
Her latest heart surgery was conducted after she began indulging in “comfort food”, a dietary habit she wasn’t used to, and started feeling shortness of breath and chest and jaw pain.
“I couldn’t believe it. And after telling women for three years to not be afraid to call the doctor and to put themselves on their to-do list, I reverted back to all those things,” she told People last month, referencing her strong advocacy for being “vigilant” about taking care of your heart, especially towards women.
“I almost wasn’t going to speak about it, I was so ashamed of myself,” she added. “But it’s a reminder to be vigilant.”
Susan first experienced heart troubles in October 2018. She experienced pressure in her chest and pain in the area of her rib cage. Despite her totally healthy lifestyle that includes pilates and a mostly Mediterranean diet, she still was prone to heart problems due to her genetic history on her dad’s side of the family.
“It’s important for everyone to know their family history,” Lucci said. “I don’t think that I ever mentioned my dad’s family history to a doctor.”
In 2018, after going to the doctor to inspect her heart, they discovered a 90% blockage in her main artery and performed heart surgery that saw two stents inserted into her heart.
“I didn’t realize how close I came to a fatal heart attack,” she said. “I would hear that heart disease is the number one killer of women, but that went in one ear and out the other. But now I get it.”
“And like most women I thought, ‘I have too much to do. It will go away.’ I didn’t want to bother the cardiologist,” she added, regarding the importance of calling your doctor if any symptoms may occur. “We take care of our children, we are advocates for our loved ones, but we’re not at the top of our own to-do list.”
In February, Lucci launched her “Empower Your Heart” necklace to benefit the AHA, and posted it to Instagram alongside a message to women everywhere.
“Sip and Shop event at Five Story, NY to launch my “Empower Your Heart” necklace to benefit the fabulous AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION,” the caption read, “and to remind women to take good care of their hearts!!! Listen to your body/don’t ignore any symptoms/put YOU on your to-do list/take action!!! Prevent heart attack! Save your life!”