AstraZeneca puts COVID-19 spin on heart disease awareness, Brilinta campaigns

Former Biggest Loser coach Bob Harper
AZ has once again tapped celebrity fitness buff and heart attack survivor Bob Harper for a new PSA and a branded Brilinta campaign. (AstraZeneca)

Too many heart attack victims are not going to the hospital out of fear of catching COVID-19—and that's a problem AstraZeneca wants to fix.

A new public service announcement starring celebrity spokesperson and heart attack survivor Bob Harper encourages viewers to call 911 at the first signs of heart attack symptoms. 

“Fewer people are living to see another day,” the fitness guru says bluntly in the “Survive Today” TV spot.

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The Harper PSA is a part of AstraZeneca’s broader COVID-19 effort, called “Our Hearts Are Open,” to support people with cardiovascular, chronic kidney disease and diabetes during the pandemic.

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But that's not all AZ and Harper are up to. The company is also unveiling another brand campaign for its blood thinner Brilinta, again starring Harper, this time with his family and loved ones in a relatable coronavirus scenario showing up to a small group gathering for dinner in the backyard.

In the new spot, Harper talks about his second chance thanks to Brilinta, which a doctor prescribed after his heart attack.

"After my heart attack, everything changed. But I got a second chance to be there for the people I love," he says.

Harper is passionate about letting other survivors know they aren’t alone, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said by email. 

Alex Dyer, AZ executive director of cardiovascular marketing, said Harper continues to be "an amazing partner and a mentor for heart attack survivors."

Through both efforts, Dyer added, "Bob is taking it one step deeper in his story to inspire others to be active in improving their health and protecting themselves against the risks of a heart attack."

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found spikes in non-respiratory deaths in March and April, especially those attributed to heart disease and diabetes. In the five states with most COVID-19 deaths, non-respiratory heart disease-attributed deaths increased by 89%, and that figure was even higher in specific hot spots. In New York City, for example, deaths attributed to heart disease increased 398% during those two months.

RELATED: Fitness guru and heart attack survivor amps up AZ campaign with meet-and-greets

Harper has been a spokesperson for AstraZeneca’s unbranded heart disease awareness efforts since 2017, shortly after his own near-fatal heart attack in February of that year. He has been a Brilinta spokesperson since 2018.

Editor's note: The story has been updated with comments from AstraZeneca director Alex Dyer.