Toni Braxton Recalls Undergoing Procedure After Her Heart’s Main Artery Was 80% Blocked Last Year
Toni Braxton revealed she underwent emergency surgery last year to address a blockage in her heart’s main artery. Braxton recalled the ‘shocking’ experience in a conversation with PEOPLE, published on Tuesday (April 25).
But Toni first discovered that her “left main coronary artery was 80% blocked” in late September 2022. The star has previously opened up about having systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). According to the outlet, doctors first diagnosed Toni with “the most common form” of the autoimmune disease in 2008.
Though she regularly keeps track of her lupus’s effect on her organs–via urine and blood tests–last year, she reportedly “slipped up.”
“It was a traumatic moment for me. I was in shock,” Toni told PEOPLE. “I remember that day because my chest was aching often, just hurting. And I thought I was just sad because, unfortunately, my sister has just passed, and I thought, wow, I’m really aching in my heart for my sister.”
As previously reported, Traci Braxton passed away in March 2022 after battling esophageal cancer privately for a year. She was 50. A few weeks after Traci’s death, Toni spoke to Tamron Hall about the aftermath of losing her sister.
Braxton Says Doctors Warned Her She Could've Had A Fatal Heart Attack Without Treatment
As for last September, Toni agrees that she was still grieving Traci–but added that “it was [her] body talking to [her]” and warning her “something’s not quite right.”
On her doctor’s insistence, Toni got tested the last week of that month.
“I did a specialized test, and they looked at my heart and saw some abnormalities,” Toni shared. “I found out 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.”
Two days after the screenings, she underwent emergency surgery to insert the stent in her heart. While she called the experience “scary,” Braxton has also found gratitude amid her emotions. She doesn’t plan to slack with her regular tests ever again.
“I look at it like it was a blessing in disguise for me because now, putting off tests? Oh no, I will not put off tests,” Toni told PEOPLE. “If all I have to do for my lupus 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 you need?”
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These days Toni is taking her health one day at a time.
“There are good days and bad days. I’m going to be honest, sometimes, the bad days get me down. I’m not superwoman. I like to think I am. I like to feel like I’m that boss b**** all the time, but I’m also human. When my body tells me to take it down and relax, I have to listen to it.”
Toni Braxton Launches 'Get Uncomfortable' Campaign Ahead Of Lupus Awareness Month
Six months after doctors inserted the stent, Braxton hopes to inspire others with lupus to speak out.
Ahead of Lupus Awareness Month, recognized in May, the Unbreak My Heart singer partnered with Aurinia for a campaign. The campaign ‘Get Uncomfortable’ aims to encourage and empower people with lupus to attend doctor visits and get routinely tested.
Toni shared a campaign video on her social platforms on Tuesday. In the caption, she highlighted her fear and exhaustion with doctor visits but emphasized their importance.
“As someone living with lupus, raising awareness during #LupusAwarenessMonth means a lot to me. One thing people may not know is that lupus can affect the kidneys. The truth is that up to 30% of people living with lupus nephritis (that’s when lupus attacks the kidneys) may experience kidney failure. For my followers who are living with lupus and lupus nephritis, I know we get tired of going to the doctor’s and getting tests done…but it’s worth it, because it can help prevent further kidney damage. I’d like to invite everyone to #GetUncomfortable with me and do things for their kidney health that may not be fun, but are important.”
Toni told PEOPLE the goal is “long life and old age.”
To learn more about the signs of lupus nephritis and find a doctor, visit Toni Braxton’s campaign here.