Celebrities battle illnesses just like we do, but some have pretty serious conditions. These celebrities have heart disease, irregular heartbeats, or just general heart problems. Read through the list and you’ll see that heart disease can affect anyone, even big celebs like Miley Cyrus.
Star Jones lost a lot of weight to get healthy, but that doesn’t mean she is totally in the clear. Star experienced heart palpitations, light-headedness, and shortness of breath. After talking to her doctor, she found out she had heart disease. She had open heart surgery, which repaired her aortic valve.
Jennie Garth looks pretty healthy, but she does have a heart condition. She has a leaky valve that was diagnosed by a cardiologist. When the heart pumps blood, some of the blood leaks through the valve instead of going into the next chamber. She says “I can feel a little weird fluttering.” It is not fatal and many people who have it go on to live normal lives.
Rosie O’Donnell had a heart attack, but she didn’t even know what was going on. The symptoms she experienced were a high temperature, clammy skin, and tiredness. She thought it was over-exertion, so she took an aspirin and waited for the symptoms to disappear. She went to the doctor the next day and they did an EKG. They found a 99% blockage in one of the arteries in her heart.
Miley Cyrus is young so you wouldn’t think anything is wrong with her heart, especially with the antics she pulls. Yet, Miley suffers from a heart condition, called tachycardia, where she has a higher heart rate than normal. She says it doesn’t bother her, but it is just something she needs to keep an eye on.
Toni Braxton started feeling light-headed while changing costumes during a Broadway show. She fainted and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors found a heart condition called pericarditis, which causes inflammation to the tissue around the heart. Because of the inflammation, the heart does not pump blood like it is supposed to.
Shaun White has competed in the Olympics three times and is a well-known snowboarder. He has a genetic defect in his heart called Tetralogy of Fallot. The blood in his heart flows differently than normal hearts. At not even one year old, he had two heart surgeries. He sees a cardiologist regularly to check on his condition.
Barbara Walters had an aortic valve replacement in 2010. This was to correct a heart valve that was not working properly. She went on television and brought attention to this disease. She once shared with her viewers “how being wheeled into operating room No.22 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in May to replace my faulty heart valve saved my life.”
In 1987, Larry King had a heart attack and had quadruple bypass surgery. He was only 53 years old at the time. During a panel, he said, “When you go into a hospital and they tell you they’re going to cut your chest open, you really think about all the dumb things you’ve done in your life.” He now runs the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.
Bill Clinton had two stents placed in his heart in 2011. He started having chest pain, and it was discovered his coronary artery had some blockage. In 2004, he had a quadruple bypass and another operation in 2005 because of complications from the previous surgery.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has had five heart attacks. He had a mechanical heart pump put in in January 2011. He said “It’s brought me back from end-stage heart failure. I was in bad shape…Now I’m leading a relatively normal life.” He now does everything he used to, such as write, fish, and hunt.
The late Robin Williams had an aortic valve replacement in 2009. The procedure took place at the Cleveland Clinic. In 2011, while on the Barbara Walters’ show, he said “You literally are opened up, and you really do appreciate the simplest things like breath, and friends.”
David Lettermans’ father died when he was just 57 years old from a heart attack, so heart problems run in his family. In January of 2000, David Letterman had a quintuple (that is five) bypass surgery. It was the same surgeon who operated on Larry King. His medical team came on television and David Letterman gave an emotional speech.
In 2010, Burt Reynolds had a quintuple bypass surgery. He recovered at home with around-the-clock nursing care. In a statement to People, his rep said “He wants to thank everyone for their good wishes and states that he has a great motor with brand new pipes and he is feeling great.”
Regis Philbin had plaque built up in his arteries that was cleared out in 2007. Later that month, he had a triple bypass surgery. He was 75 years old at the time. In 2009, he had hip replacement surgery, and then he retired in 2011 at the age of 79 years old.
In 2008, Kelsey Grammer was paddle boarding in Hawaii. He experienced heart symptoms and went ashore. He was taken to a nearby hospital where it was discovered he’d had a minor heart attack. He hasn’t had any serious incidents since then, but he has to be careful.
Bret Michaels had a mini stroke in 2010. When doctors investigated further, they found a hole in his heart. He underwent surgery in 2011 to repair the hole. After his hole was repaired he said “I am pumped to get back on the road and start rocking out on stage for all my awesome fans.”
Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure in 2004. The condition leaves the heart unable to pump blood properly around the body. About five million Americans have congestive heart failure and 20 percent die within one year of being diagnosed. About 50 percent of all people die within five years of being diagnosed.
Charlie Rose had open heart surgery in 2002. The surgery was to repair a heart valve problem he had his entire life. A few years later, he experienced shortness of breath and had surgery to repair his mitral valve, which was narrowing.
In 2013, Ron Jeremy was hospitalized because of an aneurysm near his heart. He had surgery to repair the artery, which was ballooning. He was 59 years old when the surgery took place. He drove himself to the hospital and had a three-week stay while he recovered.
Brian Littrell, one of the Backstreet Boys, was born with a heart murmur. He had surgery in 1998 to repair the problem. Ten years after his surgery, Brian had a son who was diagnosed Kawasaki disease, which causes an inflammation of the arteries that can affect the heart.
John Candy battled weight problems through most of his life. He tried to lose weight and quit smoking in the early 90s, but he died while filming Wagons East! on March 4, 1994. The cause of death was heart attack.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The man who wrote “The Great Gatsby” had heart problems. He was a heavy drinker and smoker. His first heart attacked happened in November 1940 and then a second one a month later. The second killed him while he was in the apartment of his mistress when he was just 44 years old.
Barry Manilow has atrial fibrillation, which is an abnormal heart rhythm. He went public with this diagnosis in 2011. He is on medication for the condition, which helps regulate the rhythm. However, he has needed electrical paddles to shock it back into normal rhythm.
Howie Mandel has atrial fibrillation. He found out in 2009 during a regular check up from the doctor. He didn’t have any other symptoms apart from being tired. He said, “The diagnosis surprised me. At the time, I felt fine.” He had an ablation, which removed the areas of the heart that trigger the irregular heart beat.
Gene Simmons is another celebrity who has atrial fibrillation. He was diagnosed in 2010 during his show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” He was treated with electrical cardioversion and has a family history of heart disease. Other triggers for the disease include alcohol and drug use, which probably aren’t part of Gene’s problem, as he is publicly very outspoken about both.
Larry Bird didn’t let his light-headedness stop him from playing for the Boston Celtics. In an autobiography, he said he felt his heart “jumping around” and felt light-headed sometimes. He thought he was just tired or needed to drink more water. He eventually went to the doctor and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.
President George H.W. Bush
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush was at Camp David when he noticed chest tightness and shortness of breath. The White House doctor diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation, which was caused by hyperthyroidism. His irregular heartbeat was regulated by medications.
Vice President Joe Biden
Medical records for Vice President Joe Biden were released in 2008 while he was campaigning with Obama. They showed he had atrial fibrillation. He was first diagnosed in 2003 after he had his gallbladder removed. The doctor said his atrial fibrillation was related to sleep apnea, which can cause an irregular heart beat.
NHL player Mario Lemieux felt like he had an irregular heartbeat in the summer of 2005. Some tests were conducted, and the doctors found nothing wrong. Later, his pulse began racing so he was admitted to the hospital. The doctors found he had atrial fibrillation and was put on medication.
In 1999, while on a plane, Elton John collapsed. He was en route to perform at the wedding to David and Victoria Beckham. He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, caused by atrial fibrillation. He had a pacemaker put in and was back on stage within two months.
During a Broadway play in 2003, Roger Moore lost consciousness. He finished the play while paramedics stood by. He was then diagnosed with bradycardia, which means a heart beat that’s lower than 40 beats per minute. He has a pacemaker to bump this number up to 60 beats per minute, the normal heart rate.
Sage Stallone, Sylvester Stallone’s son, died of a heart attack when he was just 36 years old. He was found in his home on July 13, 2012 in Los Angeles. He had not been heard from for four days and had not been seen for about seven days before he was found. His heart attack was caused by coronary artery disease.
Rue McClanahan has battled both heart disease and breast cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and made a full recovery. In 2009, she had heart bypass surgery. After the surgery, she suffered a stroke and had to stay in the ICU. A year later, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage when she was 76 years old.
Kenneth Lay worked for Enron and was the CEO and chairman of the company. He liquidated more than $300 million of stock over the course of 12 years. In 2004, he was indicted for his part in the collapse of Enron, which included wire fraud, securities fraud, and misleading statements. He died of a heart attack in 2006 while on vacation in Colorado, two months before his sentencing.
Bing Crosby is best known for his role in “White Christmas.” Over the course of his career, he had 300 hit singles making him a widely popular singer. He died from a heart attack while playing golf in Madrid on October 14, 1977. A memorial was held for him at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. About 3,00 people came out to pay their respects to the entertainer.
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Shoeless Joe Jackson was a famous major league baseball player in the early 20th century. He was later ousted from the sport for supposedly fixing the game. After he left baseball, he lived with his wife in Greenville, South Carolina. He died on December 5, 1951, while trying to get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Brittany Murphy started acting when she was just eight years old. She became a household name after her role in “Clueless” next to Alicia Silverstone. Brittany died on December 20, 2009 and her death has been somewhat mysterious. The initial report said she died of a heart attack, where later it was said she died of anemia and acute pneumonia. Her father had tests done on her hair that showed exposure to rat poison, but authorities did not change the original report.
Salvador Dali was a well-known Spanish artist who specialized in surrealism. He went to art school at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. Dali had to retire from painting in 1980 because of a condition that caused him to have weakness and trembling in his hands. Later, he was burned in a fire and was confined to a wheelchair. In 1988, he was admitted to the hospital because of a failing heart. He died at the age of 84.
John Ritter played numerous roles over his career as an actor. Some of the shows he was in included M.A.S.H., Hawaii Five-O, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Three’s Company. He worked closely with the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation because his brother had the disease. John Ritter died on September 11, 2003 from a torn aorta, which is the largest artery in your heart.
Ted Demme was a producer and director who worked on movies such as Life, Blow, and Beautiful Girls. He also created the show “Yo! MTV Raps.” in the late 1980s. In 1999, he worked on a television movie that received an Emmy. It was called “A Lesson Before Dying.” On January 13, 2002, Ted died after having a heart attack during a celebrity basketball game. He was only 38 years old.
Hank Williams was America’s first country music superstars. Some of his most popular hits were “Hey, Good Lookin,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” In 1951, he ha a minor heart attack. The doctor later cleared him to travel so he hopped in the back of his car where he became unconscious. After two hours of not hearing anything, his driver pulled over and Hank Williams was pronounced dead shortly afterward.