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Susan Lucci shares health update after heart attack scare — and what she wants women to know

The former soap opera star has advice for other women when it comes to taking care of themselves.
/ Source: TODAY

Susan Lucci stopped by the 3rd hour of TODAY on Thursday to discuss how she is doing after undergoing emergency heart surgery last fall, and to remind other women to make sure they stay heart smart.

After experiencing a third round of chest pain, Lucci went to the emergency room after where a doctor told her she had a massive blockage in her main artery and nearly suffered a severe heart attack, known as a widowmaker. As a result, she underwent surgery where she received two stents.

The doctor came back and said, 'You have a 90 percent blockage in your main artery," Lucci explained.

Go Red for Women Fashion Show
The former "All My Children" took to the runway earlier this year to participate in the The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2019 event. Getty Images

“I’m doing great,” she said, while noting that she did not actually have a heart attack. “I really feel wonderful."

Lucci, 72, said she remembered seeing an interview with a woman many years ago saying symptoms of a heart attack differ for men and women, and that it felt like an elephant was pressing down on her chest — a sensation that the actress felt that third time she had chest pain.

“This was undeniable,” she said about the pain, which began when she was shopping.

The former "All my Children" star said the experience taught her that all women need to listen to their bodies.

“I think the takeaway is, for women in particular, to put yourself on your to-do list because even when I felt the elephant pressing on my chest and even when (the store manager) Judy said, 'I will drive you to the hospital,' I was thinking, ‘But I have to go here. I have to do this.’ You know, it was the middle of the afternoon and I have no time for this and I’m sure it’ll go away,” she said.

Lucci also said there’s a tendency for people, especially women, to downplay what they’re experiencing when they're sick.

“I also think there’s a feeling that we don’t want to overreact,” she said, noting that we may feel like we’re simply wasting our doctor’s time.

The Emmy winner believes women should make sure they put their health first.

“It’s just so important to know your body and listen to your symptoms,” she said. “If something feels that it’s not right, call your doctor, go to the hospital.”

Lucci, who says she had always been in good health, noted she didn’t even spend 24 hours in the hospital, but felt the episode “shook my confidence.” Amazingly, she appeared onstage in a show three days after the surgery.

“It was good for me because it was a way of reclaiming my life. This is who I am. Get my life back,” she said.