Debbie Allen Speaks Out About Heart Disease

Debbie Allen, perhaps best known for her portrayal as Lydia Grant in the hit TV show Fame, recently stopped by Fox News to discuss how she uses her celebrity status to make a difference.

Allen, who most recently has been a judge on So You Think You Can Dance? and directed multiple episodes (as well as acted in one) of Grey’s Anatomy, told Dr. Manny Alvarez how she has teamed up with Medtronic and the National Council for the Aging to promote a new kind of pacemaker.

According to Alvarez, senior managing health editor of, 1.5 million Americans are living with a pacemaker – and that number is only expected to rise due to an aging population.

“Heart issues are very important to my family,” Allen, 61, said of the partnership. “Heart disease runs in my family, and recently my dearest friend had to get a pacemaker. I was worried about him . . . (pacemakers) are not compatible with MRIs.”

Allen has had three MRIs in her life, and she knows it’s the best diagnostic tool there is. She also found out about Medtronic’s SureScan pacemaker, which is compatible with MRIs, and she wants the public to know about them.

The average pacemaker contains metal, and since an MRI is like a big magnet, the two don’t go together.
Allen said her friend doesn’t have the SureScan, so if he were to get into an accident, he couldn’t have an MRI.

“It’s important because we utilize diagnostic tools (like MRIs) every day,” Alvarez agreed.

Allen, who used to be a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, also pointed out that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, so she hopes to spread awareness about that.

“Celebrity is not just good for having your face on cover of magazine, it’s a responsibility and if you can help the public, you should stand up and fight the good fight,” Allen said.

Besides her directing gigs on Grey’s, Allen is currently working on The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker in Los Angeles and collaborating with Mariah Carey.

For more information go to