"I said to Michelle, 'I think this could be a heart attack,' " O'Donnell, 50, says, referring to her wife Michelle Rounds, on the The Dr. Oz Show airing Thursday. "She says, 'I'm going get you some aspirin.' By chance, three days before, [Michelle] had purchased Bayer Women's Aspirin. I chewed them, and then I fell asleep. But then I did not call 911, and I should have."
O'Donnell says she later learned that women often don't reach out for help during a heart attack. "Fifty percent of women, while having heart attacks and suspecting they're having heart attacks, do not call 911," she says. "It was the stupidest decision I ever made in my life."
Rounds tells Dr. Mehmet Oz that getting O'Donnell, 50, to put her health first has been a struggle but that they're making progress together.
"It's challenging. I've been working with her for about a year on thinking of better, healthier habits, and I think she's come a long way," says Rounds, who was diagnosed with desmoid tumors this year. "She tends to put others first. She has a very big heart, but I think we've come a long way. We're on the right track."
O'Donnell, who is eating more healthfully these days, says she is committed to getting the message out to women about how to react when they suspect they're suffering a heart attack.
In fact, she says she hoped to create a club with the help of other female celebrities who have gone through the same thing, but hasn't been able to find anyone else who has openly discussed the issue.
"I'm Googling and I'm like, 'How come there's no women who had a heart attack? Am I the only [female] celebrity that ever had a heart attack?' " she says. "Well I don't know if I am, but I guess I'm the only one who wants to talk about it."