Susan Lucci Shares Her Thoughts About ‘All My Children’s’ Future

There is one thing Susan Lucci and her famous TV persona, Erica Kane, have in common: winning. So when Lucci’s husband of 42 years, Helmut Huber, told her he had a-fib (atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that increases one’s chances of having a stroke by five times), Susan pulled herself together and got educated. Today she and Huber are busy promoting their campaign Facing AFib ( and teaching the world how to save the ones you love. Below, in the edited version of our interview with her, learn about her husband's health condition and what it's like for 'All My Children' to say good-bye to ABC after so many years.

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
susan lucci and her husband helmut huber fight afib image
Photograph: Joshua Zuckerman Photography

More: You and your husband got quite a scare 11 years ago.
Susan Lucci: Yes, it happened when my husband went in for a routine pre-op exam for arthroscopic shoulder surgery. I mean, he had no symptoms of an irregular heartbeat. It was when he had that pre-op exam that the doctor detected it.

More: What did you know about a-fib?
SL: I had no idea what it was or what it meant to have an irregular heartbeat. We went to a wonderful cardiologist, and from there we gathered information to learn all about it.

More: Knowing that your husband’s chances of having a stroke are greater than some other people’s must have really frightened you.
SL: That was the scariest thing of all. I had no idea a-fib could be connected to having a stroke. And if you have a-fib and have a stroke, you’re twice as likely to have a fatal or disabling stroke. This was a wake-up call. When I heard that, I became vigilant in getting him to follow a healthy diet. That meant no butter on his bread and no more hot dogs. Instead, he has oatmeal in the morning with fresh fruit. He also eats grilled salmon and chicken with fresh vegetables.

More: You must have been terrified at the thought of losing your husband.
SL: We were in shock. But the good news was it was manageable and caught early. If, God forbid, he ever had a stroke, it would be devastating to me and our children. At first we lived in fear, but then we got educated. Now we are armed and taking action.

More: Does heart disease run in his family?
SL: No. I don’t think his brother or anyone else in his family has a history of this.

More: Does Helmut have to go to the doctor often to monitor his condition?
SL: He does go more often to get a checkup and watch his medication.

More: Do you get nervous when Helmut goes to the doctor for his checkup, knowing he might not get a good report?
SL: I do, and I even call the doctor myself. I want to know the results. But like I said, this was a wake-up call, and because Helmut wants to be around, he is taking really good care of himself.

More: What is your goal as the face for the Facing AFib ad?
SL: I hope by telling our story, we can prevent more people from having a stroke.

More: Did his condition have an impact on your marriage?
SL: I love my husband, and I didn’t want anything to happen to him. My husband has always been there for me, and I was determined to be there for him. While tragedy can tear some people apart, in our case I wanted him around, so I was not going to let anything change that.

More: On another note, I am so sorry to hear All My Children and ABC are parting ways. How are you holding up?
SL: It is a sad time for all of us and an emotional time, too. We love All My Children very much. We are now waiting to see if Prospect Park, the production company, will pick up AMC and take us forward to an online broadcast.

More: So this isn’t good-bye?
SL: I am hoping that AMC does continue.

More: What was your reaction when you heard the news that ABC had pulled the plug on AMC?
SL: I was totally surprised. My book had come out just before it was announced, and I was busy on a book tour all over the country, meeting people who were really passionate about the show.

More: Would you continue to star in AMC if it were broadcast on the Web?
SL: I think it is potentially very exciting. If AMC and Erica Kane were to continue, I would want to be there. I have made it clear that I would love to continue with my creative family. I love them. I think it is an exciting idea, and I am open to it, definitely.

First Published September 13, 2011

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