Toni Braxton is opening up about a “traumatic” and life-threatening health scare that occurred as a result of her living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common form of lupus.
The “Un-Break My Heart” singer, who has been open in the past about her battle with SLE, revealed to PEOPLE that she underwent a procedure last September after 80 percent of the main artery in her heart was blocked.
Since she was first diagnosed with lupus in 2008, the 55-year-old has been hospitalized “more times than I care to admit” from the disease, which is why she knows the importance of staying on top of routine urine and blood tests to assess how the lupus is affecting her organs, PEOPLE notes.
However, Braxton admits that she slipped up last year, which lead to the near-fatal health scare that required her to have a coronary stent placed to prevent a heart attack.
“It (was) put in at a really, really scary moment,” the actress tells TODAY, adding that the experience felt “surreal.”
Braxton was debating skipping a doctor’s appointment because she thought she was “fine.” Fortunately, she decided to keep the appointment.
“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,” Braxton tells PEOPLE. “I found out that I needed a coronary stent. My left main coronary artery was 80% blocked. The doctors told me I could’ve had a massive heart attack, I would not have survived.”
“A couple days after they did the procedure they told me that it was touch and go,” Braxton told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager.
If Braxton hadn’t kept her appointment, she could’ve had a widow-maker heart attack, which is a type of heart attack that occurs when someone has a complete blockage of the left anterior descending artery, the largest artery in the heart, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
“It was a traumatic moment for me. I was in shock,” she recalls. “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.”
Looking back at the traumatic event, the singer admits to feeling emotional, but she is also glad it didn’t…