R&B icon Toni Braxton is opening up about the “traumatic” heart surgery procedure she underwent in September 2022.
In a new interview with People, the “Un-Break My Heart” crooner revealed that she was rushed into surgery after doctors discovered that 80 percent of her main artery was blocked due to complications from systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, a common form of lupus.
Braxton, 55, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 2008. The Maryland native must take routine blood and urine tests to monitor how lupus affects her organs and vitals, but last year, the singer fell behind on some of her regular screenings.
“I kept putting it off thinking, ‘Oh, I’m fine. I’ll be okay.’ But my doctor was persistent, and I went to get tested in the last week of September. I did a specialized test, and they looked at my heart and saw some abnormalities,” the Grammy-winning singer divulged.
Doctors told Braxton she needed a coronary stint to open her left main artery. And it was a good thing that she came in for a visit. The “Breathe Again” hitmaker revealed that she “could’ve had a massive heart attack.”
“I would not have survived,” the multi-hyphenate continued. “It was a traumatic moment for me. I was in shock. I remember that day because my chest was aching often, just hurting. And I thought I was just sad because, unfortunately, my sister [Traci Braxton] had just passed, and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m really aching in my heart for my sister.’ And come to find out, of course, I was sad about my sister, but I also had underlying health issues. It was my body talking to me, telling me something’s not quite right.”
What is SLE?
SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. It can impact the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys and blood vessels. If left untreated, the condition can lead to fatal complications. Common symptoms include muscle and joint pain, swelling, chest pain and hair loss.
During her emergency surgery, the star had a stent or a tube, placed in her heart to help open up her left artery. Thankfully, she recovered after a short hospital stay.
With a new lease on life, Braxton has teamed up with the pharmaceutical company Aurinia to spread awareness about the dangers of lupus nephritis, a severe kidney disease that can develop from SLE. The star hopes to empower people with the disorder to get tested and prioritize their health, especially Black women.
According to the singer, Black women are four times more likely to develop complications from SLE and are at a greater risk of dying from the disease. The R&B titan offered advice to individuals who may be behind on their required lupus exams–“get those screenings.”
“The goal here is long life and old age,” Braxton added.
Although the surgery was frightening, she said she’s lucky to be alive and will do better regarding managing her screenings.
“If all I have to do for my lupus and my kidney health is pee in a cup, I can pee in a cup. How many times do you need me to pee? If all I gotta do is get my arm pricked for some blood? Oh yes, I can do that. How many vials do you need?”
Toni Braxton isn’t the only Black celeb living with lupus.
Nick Cannon and Snoop Dogg’s daughter Cori Broadus have also spoken openly about their struggles dealing with the autoimmune disorder.
In a 2022 interview with Essence, Broadus revealed that she was diagnosed with lupus when she was 6. The aspiring singer suffered from extreme hair loss living with the condition. But Broadus turned her difficult circumstance into an opportunity.
Alongside her mother, Shante Broadus, the 23-year-old launched a luxury scarf line perfect for fashionistas and individuals dealing with hair loss from conditions like lupus.
“It feels good to be the inspiration behind this collection,” the star told the outlet. “If you really think about having lupus, even being sick at the age of 6, you don’t really know what’s going on at that age. The doctors were telling me it could have been cancer. It could have been this. So the fact that I had my family’s support and them making me feel comfortable and beautiful even though I was experiencing hair loss, I’m just honored to be a part of this whole thing. I think it’s dope.”
In 2012, Nick Cannon was diagnosed with the disorder. Doctors told the famous TV host that he had developed kidney failure and blood clots in his lungs that could have turned fatal. The actor was forced to change his entire lifestyle after the scary diagnosis.
“Day-by-day, I laid a foundation both mentally and physically to build back the life that I had almost lost to this disease,” the California native told fans on The Nick Cannon Show in 2022.
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