Toni Braxton opened up in an interview with the TODAY show about a recent health scare that resulted in an emergency heart procedure. The singer has been very open about her battle with lupus since she was diagnosed in 2008. She revealed in the interview that the disease almost led to a “widowmaker” heart attack. She had a coronary stent placed in her arteries to prevent a blockage from occurring.

Braxton even mentioned how she almost skipped the revealing appointment because she felt fine. She reported that she was feeling chest pains but she thought it was because of grief of her sister’s recent death.

“I just thought it was sadness,” she said in the TODAY interview. “It turned out to be much more serious, and I just dismissed the signs … and a lot of people tend to do that.”

Toni Braxton’s life-saving doctor’s appointment and procedure is a reminder that lupus continuously affects Black women.

Lupus in Black Women

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels, and can eventually lead to tissue or organ damage and other diseases, like heart disease and kidney disease. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Black women are three times more likely to develop lupus than white women. This is due to issues like systemic racism and healthcare inequities. They are more likely to have a family history of lupus, which further increases their risk.

Additionally, environmental factors can affect Black women’s susceptibility to lupus. Exposure to sunlight, infections, and certain medications can trigger lupus flares. Black women are more likely to live in areas with higher UV radiation levels, which can trigger lupus skin rashes.

When Toni Braxton was first diagnosed, doctors told her she would need a heart transplant and might not be able to ever perform again. In an interview with Business Insider, she shared her fears when she got the news.

“When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I remember being petrified,” she recalled to Business Insider. “I was scared. I didn’t know anything about lupus.”

Since her diagnosis, she has developed microvascular angina and blood clots. 

“Of the lupuses, I have the worst — but of the worst, I have the best,” Braxton said. “I’m always trying to be positive about it.”