Women hope fashion leads to good heart health

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Picking the right outfit can be a challenge for any woman, and when the dress is spreading a message of health, the pressure is on.

"You put a bunch of beautiful women on a catwalk, you're going to stop and people are going to look and they're going to listen," said American Heart Association Spokeswoman Mary Leah Coco.

Twenty-five women will be modeling for the American Heart Association's Go Red Luncheon on February 22.  They weren't just picked for their skills on a runway; each of these women has a very special connection to heart disease.  They are survivors and advocates.

Coco was chosen to represent the AHA nationally because of her experiences fighting heart disease.  Several years ago, doctors discovered that her heart is enlarged and she had less than 20 percent heart function.  Ultimately, she will need a heart transplant. Meanwhile, she shares her story with hopes of helping other women take charge of their heart health.

"It's a silent killer and it's taking women away from their families, from their careers from the lives that they want to lead. I think that knowledge is power and letting women know that it's not unbeatable," said Ashley Hebert Miss Louisiana International 2013.

One of Hebert's platforms as Miss Louisiana International is heart health.

"What we know about women and heart disease is we don't a lot about it. So, for a long time, we feel like we've been on this journey by ourselves. Now, you're part of sisterhood that no one really wants to be a part of, but you're grateful to have other women who have experienced the same thing you have," said Coco.

Fashion may seem fickle, but these models say it's a way to unite women and start the conversation.

"To see the women who are walking as a survivor and hear their stories, it's extremely touching and it's a blessing to be a part of it," said Hebert.

"Things like our Go Red for women luncheon on Baton Rouge, it's not just about the fashion show, it's about coming and getting the health screenings.  It's about answering the questions you have. It's about the whole entire process," said Coco.

For more information on the Go Red Luncheon, click here.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.