During a visit to Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Tuesday night, the former Biggest Loser coach and fitness guru explained his body had been sending off red flags well before the attack struck.
“I fainted one time in the gym,” said the 51-year-old trainer. “I started having these dizzy spells. And I just kind of overlooked them and just adapted. Which is the dumbest thing — I kick myself over and over again about it.”
Harper had just finished a workout session at his gym on Feb. 12 when he went into cardiac arrest. “I technically died,” Harper said. “There’s a piece of paper from the doctor that said: ‘Cause of Death: Cardiac Arrest’ ”
Luckily, two doctors were at the gym for an event and they were able to perform CPR on him and use Automated External Defibrillators (AED). He then slipped into a two-day coma — suffering short term memory loss when he first woke up.
He’s feeling better now, Harper told Cohen, and is able to find the humor in some of the things that happened to him.
For one, when Harper first woke up, hospital staff kept testing his memory by asking him if he knew who the president is — meaning Harper had to keep learning about Donald Trump‘s election over and over again.
“I had this short term memory and I couldn’t remember anything after 10 minutes. And they were like ‘Do you know who the president is?’ And I’m like ‘Nope, nope!’ ” he joked, putting his fingers in his ears.
He also made fun of himself when giving his Real Housewives tagline. “This bitch died!” he said, laughing.
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Harper talked about how his friends were there to support him after his attack, including Howard Stern and wife Beth Ostrosky Stern — who were among the many who got in touch.
“He and Beth, they reached out to me after I had my heart attack, and then Howard sent me a video of naked men doing yoga,” Harper said. “And then Beth was like, ‘You’re going to give him another heart attack.’ I love him.”
As for his Biggest Loser costars? “I heard from almost all of my Biggest Loser costars,” he said — staying mum on who hadn’t been in touch.
The evening was filled with touching moments — including when Cohen embraced Harper early on in the episode, telling him, “I’m glad you’re here. Really glad you’re here.”
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But the most emotional part of the evening came on the after-show, when a fellow widowmaker survivor called in to thank Harper for telling his story.
When asked what he would do differently moving forward when it came to training and working out, Harper got candid.
“First of all, I will never work out in a gym that doesn’t have people that are certified with CPR and that don’t have AEDs. I want to go and make it a law in all 50 states that they should have that,” he said.
“I just think that for me, it changes my whole approach,” Harper continued. “But I am so happy to be around.”
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen airs Sunday-Thursday (11:30 p.m. ET) on Bravo.