“Dress Smart for a Healthy Heart” fashion show puts face on heart disease in the community

SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 20, 2009) — Both of her parents had heart disease. But Laurie Tran never thought much about her own risk until she felt an unfamiliar tightness in her chest during a run one day and saw her heart rate spike.

She went in for tests and then consulted with cardiothoracic surgeons and Steven R. Bailey, M.D., chief of cardiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She was offered a choice between open-heart surgery or angioplasty and stents. She had five stents put in just before Christmas.

In hindsight, Tran realizes that she had been experiencing symptoms of heart disease for at least six months: “For a long time, I pushed all the symptoms aside. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t do that.”

Tran is one of 10 women participating in the third annual “Dress Smart for a Healthy Heart” fashion show, which will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, in the Health Science Center’s auditorium. The fashion show and the reception afterward are free and open to the public.

The fashion show is educational. The 10 models have a variety of conditions, including coronary disease, congenital heart defects, pulmonary hypertension, atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Some of the women underwent procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratory; others have had surgery. One received a heart transplant.

As each woman walks the runway, Health Science Center faculty members will describe her condition, the risk factors that preceded it and her treatment plan.

Held during American Heart Month, the fashion show was created to put faces on heart disease in the community. Heart disease in its various forms remains the No. 1 killer of American women.

“Women don’t generally think of themselves as being at risk,” said Alina Matutes-Eckhardt, a cardiology nurse practitioner at the Health Science Center. “I’d like to see an increased awareness in our community, since many cardiovascular conditions can be impacted by lifestyle choices, early recognition and treatment.”

For Tran, treatment includes a low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet, as well as medication, weight loss and exercise.

Several members of Tran’s family reacted to her diagnosis by getting checked out themselves. Tran hopes the fashion show will encourage other women to do the same.

“I just want to get the word out. It’s the scariest thing when this happens,” Tran said. “Pay attention, listen to your body and get yourself checked.”

The event is sponsored by the Health Science Center’s Council for Excellence in Women’s Health, in conjunction with the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology and University Health System.

The Council for Excellence in Women’s Health was formed in 2007 by Graciela Cigarroa, wife of University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., who was president of the Health Science Center at the time. The council’s mission is to improve women’s health in San Antonio through better awareness.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 24,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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