The shock heart attack death of a 40-year-old Australian lifestyle blogger shows that even the young and fit need to be aware of cardiovascular risks, a major medical research charity has warned.
The Heart Foundation’s caution came as the organisation was under fire over its controversial scare tactic to urge people to get their hearts checked.
Described as “cruel” by some social media users, the new advertising campaign called Heartless Words features people with heart disease telling their families that they don’t love them enough to care about their heart health.
In one scene, a mother tucking her son into bed tells him: “Every time I told you that I loved you, I was lying. You are not my priority.”
In another, a husband tells his wife during their daughter’s performance at a school concert: “If I really loved you both, I’d protect my heart to protect yours.”
Heart disease doesn't just affect you. It also devastates your loved ones. Look after your heart and theirs. Visit your GP for a Heart Health Check today https://t.co/TMsivMpqry #showsometicker pic.twitter.com/E6uGagjDTr
— Heart Foundation (@heartfoundation) May 27, 2019
The campaign has been met with fierce criticism online, particularly by those who have lost family members to heart disease.
Some have called for it to be taken down, while others have slammed it as “absolutely disgusting”.
My father died suddenly due to a heart attack when I was four. My grief was soon replaced by confusion and embarrassment. This ad would have exacerbated both.
— Moira McInerny (@MoiraMcInerny) May 28, 2019
The Heart Foundation’s national support and care director Rachelle Foreman has defended the ad, saying that people needed to be shocked into caring more about their heart health to prevent more deaths.
“Heart disease is our largest killer collectively between men and women,” Ms Foreman told The New Daily.
“It’s not meant to offend people but it is meant to invoke a reaction to start a conversation, to make people stop and think: Could that be me?”
In Australia, 22 women die each day due to heart disease, which kills nearly three times more women than breast cancer every year.
In one recent high-profile death, Instagram fashion and lifestyle blogger Anna Green suddenly died on Monday after a heart attack last week.
It’s understood Mrs Green – the wife of former AFL star Brad Green – had suffered cardiac arrest during a surgery.
The 38-year-old Mr Green, a former Melbourne captain, confirmed the sudden loss of his wife and mother of their sons Oliver, 9, and Wilba, 7, in a moving tribute on his Instagram account.
“Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end,” he wrote.
“It simply means, I’ll miss you until we meet again. Rest easy my darling #xxx3boys.”
On Instagram, the former Virgin Australia flight attendant called herself a “lover of sunshine, palm trees, yoga, beaches, travel, sunsets, cocktails, style”.
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A post shared by Anna Green (@happilyeveranna) on
Ms Foreman said heart attacks could happen to anyone, even to people who are fit and healthy like Mrs Green, which is why it was so important to get a heart health check-up by a doctor.
“Blood pressure, family history and cholesterol are risk factors, and so is cardiovascular health during pregnancy,” Mrs Foreman said.
“You might not feel unwell, and a heart attack might be the first sign that something is wrong.”
The heart health expert said the warning signs of a heart attack were not always as obvious as those depicted in films.
“It’s not always crushing chest pain or pressure like your classic Hollywood heart attack – it’s going to be much more subtle,” Ms Foreman said.
“It’s often jaw pain, arm pain, or you might just be feeling nauseous, short of breath or sweaty.
“It it lasts for 10 minutes or is getting worse, then call the ambulance.”
Heart Foundation Helpline: 13 11 12