Best known for her role in the ABC soap opera ‘All My Children‘, actress Susan Lucci made news once again after she opened up about her experience having to get an emergency heart surgery because of her almost brush with a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack.
Fortunately, she survived the experience and is wiser because of it. Here’s what she learned.
The Difference Between Life & Death
In an interview with Today, the 72-year-old revealed that she only went to the emergency room during the third time she experienced chest pain. Describing the pain she felt, she said that it was like having an elephant sitting on her chest.
At the hospital, the actress was informed that she almost suffered a major heart attack as her doctor found her main artery blocked. The issue was resolved with surgery which entailed the putting of two stents in her heart.
While Lucci says that she’s now doing well, she still wants her experience to be a learning one for other women. The survivor commented about how some women would downplay their symptoms because they think they’re just overreacting.
In reality, though, getting a check-up could be the difference between life and death as what happened in her case. In the end, Lucci adviced people to listen to their bodies and to go to the doctor when things don’t feel right.
What a Widowmaker Heart Attack Is
So, what is a widowmaker heart attack anyway? According to Dr. Jennifer Haythe, Columbia University Irving Medical Center‘s Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health co-director, the term is used to describe a kind of serious heart attack which can be lethal due to its location within a person’s heart.
This type of heart attack can happen when one of the three major vessels of the heart becomes blocked. However, widowmaker heart attacks are usually associated with a blockage in the left anterior descending artery. With vessels being responsible for about 40% of the oxygen and blood supplied to the heart, a blockage in one of them may lead to chest pains, a rhythm problem and in worst-case scenarios, even sudden cardiac death when left unchecked.
In general, the widowmaker heart attack will manifest in sweating, difficulty in breathing and chest pressure. However, symptoms for it can actually differ from person to person. For example, women tend to experience fewer symptoms and even less to no pain at all which sometimes contributes to their choice to ignore or downplay other telling symptoms.
Instead, women may experience an increase in nervousness or anxiety. Other symptoms women should watch out for are fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and abdominal discomfort, according to Dr. Sanjiv Patel, a cardiologist at the Orange Coast Medical Center.
Click on and see what advice Susan Lucci can give you regarding heart health.