THE Heart Foundation has been slammed for an advert that suggests people who don't look after their heart don't care about their families.
The organisation has edited a powerful scene from its new Heartless Words ad campaign following a backlash over the shock tactics used.
Launched on social media this week, the ad begins with a mother putting her young son to bed as she tells him: "Every time I told you I loved you I was lying — you are not my priority."
Another scene shows a man helping his wife wash dishes.
He tells her: "I promised you my heart and I've given it away."
While at a family gathering a man tells his loved ones: "
In time, this family will be filled with loss and sadness. But I won't care because I'll be gone
The ad ends with a mother on her deathbed in hospital as she tells her daughter: "It's not just my heart I don't care about it, it's yours."
The scene has since been removed from but the unedited version still remains on the Heart Foundation's social media accounts.
Slamming the ad on Twitter, one user said: "If this isn’t the most hurtful ad that I’ve seen in forever. My dad died of hereditary heart disease. He battled it his whole life. Whilst your message is important, it’s deliverance is hurtful, insensitive and just plain ignorant."
La Trobe University cardiovascular researcher Professor Grant Drummond told The Age: "The Heart Foundation do a magnificent job of raising awareness of cardiovascular disease and rasing money for research, but I'd have to say on this occasion they have been slightly off the mark.
"Heart attacks and stroke don't just affect sedentary, overweight, unhealthy or elderly people.
"There many young, fit people who lead very healthy lives struck down by sudden heart attacks and strokes so it's really important we remove the stigma that it is all brought on by your own poor lifestyle choices."
Australia's advertising standards watchdog confirmed on Tuesday it had received a number of complaints about the advertisement and was investigating the matter.
Victorian Heart Foundation chief executive Kellie-Ann Jolly apologised for any hurt caused by the advertisement but argued that the confrontational campaign was necessary.
"We have taken a bold approach by using moments of family life that people can relate to in order to cut through and get Australians to understand their risks of heart disease," she said.
"This campaign is necessary because more than 200,000 Australians have died in the past five years, 600,000 Australians are living with heart disease, and 13 million Australians have three or more risk factors for heart disease."
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