Toni Braxton jumped at the chance to become a spokesperson for the AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION, so she could share what she went through when she was diagnosed with heart condition pericarditis.

The UNBREAK MY HEART singer was devastated when she realised the fatigue she was suffering while performing AIDA on Broadway, New York, was due to a killer condition.

And now she's urging women not to take chest pains lightly - and get them checked as soon as possible.

She says, "You get a virus that attacks the heart, so the lining of my heart was inflamed. It's very painful. It's severe chest pains.

"I just attributed it to being a new mommy... 'Maybe I'm just so tired,' but I was so exhausted doing the play that they said, 'She has to go to the emergency room...' and they did an EKG (electrocardiogram) and found out that I had pericarditis... I was on all these medications. It was very scary."

Braxton, now recovering from her brush with death, has since discovered there is a history of heart disease in her family.

She adds, "I came to find out that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Heart disease runs in my family... there's my grandfather, my mom's at risk because she's a diabetic. My dad, after I found out I had pericarditis, he told me he had a mild heart attack years ago. It's very important you know your family history."

01/03/2005 09:32