Demi Lovato‘s decision to perform her 2013 hit “Heart Attack” at a recent performance raising awareness about deadly cardiovascular ailments for the American Heart Association raised some eyebrows and the defenses of the singer-songwriter because of Lovato’s own physical history. Now, a representative for the Grammy nominee explains to EW why the 31-year-old specifically chose to sing the song.
After Lovato took the stage Wednesday in New York City at the AHA’s annual Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection concert, videos circulated online showing her walking through the crowd as she sang “Heart Attack” with select attendees.
“She spoke on the mind-heart connection. It was a sensitive moment intended to champion the women in the room — the very reason why Demi was at the event,” a representative for Lovato explains via email. “She did open with a beautiful intro on why she chose the song and addressed the room, talking about the mind and heart connection. It was actually a beautiful moment.”
EW additionally spoke with one of the event’s attendees, who confirmed that Lovato gave an introduction that explained why they chose “Heart Attack” for the event.
Though Lovato’s appearance at the event was for a good cause, the song choice rubbed some the wrong way. “In poor taste or the perfect song?” one X user tweeted in reaction to the performance, while another pointed out that Lovato experienced the song’s titular medical condition themself following their 2018 overdose.
“I actually don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” they said in their 2021 Dancing With the Devil docuseries. “I had three strokes. I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can’t drive anymore. And I have blind spots in my vision so sometimes when I go to pour a glass of water, I’ll totally miss the cup because I can’t see it. I also had pneumonia because I asphyxiated and had multiple organ failure…I’m really lucky to be alive. My doctors said that, like, I had five to 10 more minutes. And had my assistant not come in, I wouldn’t be here today.”
After taking the stage for the AHA, Lovato shared a celebratory message to her Instagram Story on Thursday.
“Are you ready to Rock Your Red? Friday is National #wearredday and a chance for you to join me and millions of women in raising awareness of women’s greatest health threat — cardiovascular disease,” Lovato wrote. “This week I was proud to stand with [the AHA] at the #reddresscollection Concert. Now it’s your turn — post a photo of you in your red with #wearredday and help save womens lives.”
The tune “Heart Attack,” which became one of Lovato’s signature numbers after hitting No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 before and subsequently being certified five-times platinum in the United States, features lyrics likening Lovato’s overwhelming attraction to a romantic partner to the physical sensation of a heart attack.
Additional reporting by Gina Ragusa