Susan Lucci urges women to look out for heart disease symptoms following scare

The former soap opera star opens up about her near-heart attack experience and Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses ways women can prevent heart disease live on "GMA."
5:11 | 02/06/19

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Transcript for Susan Lucci urges women to look out for heart disease symptoms following scare
Susan Lucci revealing her health heart scare and, boy, Amy, this was a serious close call. It was and like so many women, susangnored her symptoms until she was nearly at a crisis point and now she wants to help other women so she took her story to the American heart association and now she's sharing that story with us. Jack, that's one of the reasons that you love me. Reporter: You know her best as Erica Kane, matriarch of "All my children" and this morning Susan Lucci is revealing how her life took a dramatic turn worthy of a soap opera this past October. Twice feeling discomfort in her chest and ignoring it. I thought it was nothing. It's going to pass. Reporter: Then she felt it a third time. I was actually in a boue and I suddenly felt what I had heard someone on a TV interview years ago, a woman say that she leading up to a heart attack had felt like an ephant was pressing on her chest. Reporter: The store manager immediately drove her to the hospital. Tests showed she had two blocked arteries requiring stents that were put in that night. I was just shocked. Because is it would lead to a heart attack ultimately. Yes, and I thank goodness that I was not home. If I was home I probably would have said I need to lay down, I'll have some water. Reporter: According to the American heart association heart disease is the number one killer of women. Claiming more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined. It was a true surprise for Susan who says she eats a healthy diet and exercises six to seven days a week. She even spent a season on "Dancing with the stars." It was genetics for me and stress and I asked the doctor, how is my heart? How is my actual heart? And said, your actual -- your heart is like a heart of a 20-year-old and he said it to me three times so I believed him. What about the emotional toll this is taking on you? How are you doing? It shook me up. It shook my confidence, I'm going to say my confidence in my health. Why do you think we dismiss symptoms that our body is trying to tell us are important and potentially dangerous. I think that we are so busy in a gooday nurturing the people we love in our family. We are not on our own to do list and you think it will pass and truly my symptom of the elephant pressing on my chest and radiating around my back did pass. You're kind of thinking this is foolish for me to be going to the hospital. Yes. It's embarrassing. And this is interesting too, there are -- some of our men friends say if this can happen to you, it can happen to me. You just Teed to listen to your symptoms and act on them. Now another reason that Susan didn't think she was at risk because other than c-section she never spent any time in the hospital. She said she was perfectly healthy but by the time she was treated for her heart, one artery was already 90% blocked and the other was 75% blocked, robin. So glad she's doing well. Thank you, Amy. Dr. Jennifer Ashton is here with us. How is it different for men and women. It is different. Literally in every way. With anatomy. Size of the heart is different in men. It's larger this. Is about the size of an adult average male heart. It's about 11 ounce, a woman's heart is a little smaller, it's about 9 ounces and what we call the pathophysiology and what causes the heart attack tends to differ in men. We heard about that cholesterol plaque that clogs the artery, it tends to clump up in one area. In women it's different. It's called microvascular disease so instead of one big clump I diffusely extd throughout the blood vessel but the result is the same. Blocks off an artery, kills heart muscle and that can be fatal. I appreciate how Susan was so honest about saying she did not adhere to the symptoms. Right. That is so common with women, especially so we need to go through this because this is truly life saving. Number one, chest pain still the most common in women and men, but look at the other symptoms, nausea, vomiting, sweating, fatigue, shortness of breath. These can be present a month before a woman has a heart attack. A month before. Yes, they're vague and flu-like. If you experience these symptoms, play it safe. It's better to be wrong than to be dead. If you go to Ang emergency room and say, I think I'm having a heart attack you need to say those words so even the health care professionals think of it because oftentimes they miss it. Thank you for admitting that. Sometimes they even miss it. There aresome things you can do to reduce your risk. 80% of heart disease is preventable. Know your numbers. Keeping your weight in a healthy rank, not smoking, reducing stress and dealing with depression which are risk factors. Being active, knowing again your ldl, blood pressure and if necessary, robin, medication. You can do all the right things just like Susan Lucci did and still have heart disease. If medication is indicated, it can be life saving. All right. Thank you, as always, Jen.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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