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

Fitness coach and heart attack survivor Bob Harper told his story last year to inspire fellow heart patients to share their own. Now, the star of AstraZeneca’s “Survivors Have Heart” awareness push is hitting the road to meet other survivors in person.

AstraZeneca expanded the initial campaign to include in-person events with Harper after positive and inspiring feedback poured in last year. And the patients' stories spurred AZ to launch online, where heart attack survivors can discuss their journeys and vie for a chance to meet Harper at a local event. Harper's national tour kicked off in Tampa June 5.

For those who can’t attend an event, the new “Survivors Have Heart” Facebook community aims to help survivors share their personal stories and connect with one another. One of the key goals of the initial campaign, validated by patient feedback, was to raise awareness about the psychological impact of heart attacks.

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“As we have heard from courageous survivors, the emotional journey can be sometimes even more challenging [than the initial physical recovery]," Alex Dyer, AstraZeneca's executive director of cardiovascular marketing, said via email.

"The cardiovascular risk for having another heart attack remains long after having the initial heart attack itself," Dyer noted, "so ‘Survivors Have Heart’ aims to offer heart attack survivors an inspiring and engaging community, so they don't have to go through this often overwhelming and sometimes isolating experience alone,”

RELATED: AstraZeneca's Brilinta wins in diabetic artery disease patients

AstraZeneca initially connected with Harper, a former host of “The Biggest Loser” TV show, after discovering that he'd been prescribed the company's clot-fighting drug Brilinta as part of his recovery plan.

AZ notched Brilinta sales of $1.3 billion in 2018, a 22% jump over 2017, and attributed (PDF) growth to continued penetration in acute coronary syndrome patients and high-risk heart attack survivors. More recently, Brilinta aced a combination study with aspirin in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death in patients with Type 2 diabetes with coronary artery disease who hadn’t suffered prior heart attack or stroke.