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Susan Lucci, 77, Shines in Red at 'Passion Project' AHA Red Dress Fashion Show Concert (Exclusive)

Lucci is an ambassador for the American Heart Association and speaks openly about her own heart health

<p>Astrid Stawiarz/Getty</p> Susan Lucci

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

Susan Lucci

Susan Lucci knows how to command attention.

The All My Children alum, 77, strutted her stuff on the red carpet at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection event on Wednesday night in New York City.

Lucci wore a strapless all-red dress that matched the event's logo and red carpet. The mermaid-style design had feathers on its bottom and was accessorized with silver jewelry.

When asked why she felt it was important to attend this event, Lucci tells PEOPLE exclusively it is her "passion project" since she had her own cardiac event. "I came out of it knowing that I just had to pass my good luck on," she says.

<p>Astrid Stawiarz/Getty</p> Susan Lucci

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

Susan Lucci

The actress also recalls her cardiologist telling her she didn't have to continue raising awareness as part of her work with the American Heart Association, but Lucci felt it was necessary.

"I couldn't keep that good luck for myself. I couldn't," she tells PEOPLE.

<p>Astrid Stawiarz/Getty</p>

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

Lucci, who is an ambassador for the American Heart Association, attends the annual event year after year, but while she was walking the runway in 2019, she took a tumble in her red dress. The soap opera star, who walked the catwalk in a red strapless hand-draped matte lasse ballgown by Rubin Singer, didn't sweat it, though, and laughed it all off.

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Writers Guild of America East Susan Lucci in 2023
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Writers Guild of America East Susan Lucci in 2023

Related: Susan Lucci Says Late Husband Helmut Huber Has 'Everything to Do' with Her Lifetime Achievement Award at Daytime Emmys

Lucci is fiercely dedicated to her work with the AHA, especially since experiencing her own cardiac trauma in 2018. The star opened up to PEOPLE in 2023 about intense chest pains she experienced and wrote off, assuming it was nothing she really needed to deal with. "I didn't want to bother the cardiologist," she said at the time. Eventually, it became too much to bear.

A scan revealed a 90% blockage in the main artery to her heart: "I didn't realize how close I came to a fatal heart attack." Her condition turned out to be genetic ("hereditary from my dad's side") and doctors put in two stents. "It's important for everyone to know their family history," Lucci said. "I don't think that I ever mentioned my dad's family history to a doctor."

Related: Susan Lucci Says Late Husband Helmut Huber Has 'Everything to Do' with Her Lifetime Achievement Award at Daytime Emmys

Just a couple years later — after speaking openly about what she went through — she had more pain that led to needing another stent. She, again, was hesitant to call the doctor.

"I almost wasn't going to speak about it, I was so ashamed of myself. But it's a reminder to be vigilant," Lucci shared.

Most recently, she shared a post on Instagram that featured a quote reading, "Heart health awareness begins with self-care" and reminded her fans to take care of their "precious heart."

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