Toni Braxton’s Battle With Heart Disease: “I Am A Survivor”
Right before starting her stint on Dancing with the Stars TV show competition, singer Toni Braxton came down with a heart problem: microvascular angina.
But it’s not her first brush with heart disease. In 2004, Braxton was diagnosed with pericarditis — inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart. At the time, Braxton felt tired and short of breath, with “tightness” in her chest. She even wondered if it was her childhood asthma recurring. Finally, during an “Aida” intermission, she felt the room “spinning a little bit,” she says. She wound up in the emergency Because of the pericarditis, her heart flutters now.
People with microvascular angina, also known as cardiac syndrome X, suffer pain when doing strenuous exercise.
When most Americans think about someone with heart disease, they don’t envision Braxton. “You think it’s some older guy, retired,” says the R&B singer and songwriter. “But you can be in your 30s, less than 115 pounds, exercise—and have heart disease.”
Women can take steps to help prevent coronary disease, including not smoking, exercising at least 30 minutes a day, losing weight if necessary and eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Some can even take an increase in fiber like in this drink to help with overall heart health.
In 95% of microvascular angina cases, lack of blood flow to the heart is due to blockages in one or more of the three main coronary arteries. Somewhere under 5% of the time, instead of major artery blockages, people have atherosclerosis in very small arteries.
Picture the heart as the trunk of a tree. To get blood to the muscles, the tree roots branch out into smaller and smaller vessels. When these little vessels get diseased, as you exercise, you can’t get enough blood to the heart.
There’s been some changes that the 48-year-old singer has had to make since she was diagnosed.
Of course, the news came as a shock. “I was disappointed. I didn’t get it,” she remembers reacting. But she did spring into action. “I had to make lifestyle and diet changes.”
Now, she says, “I eat relatively well, but sometimes having those pizzas and burgers late at night – I had to change that.”
In an American Heart Association survey in the past two years, 77 percent of Caucasian women were…