Documentary “The Widowmaker” Looks At Heart Disease Treatments

The Widowmaker is a documentary film about the tensions between preventionist and interventionist medicine for heart disease.

Almost every minute of every day someone dies from a heart attack. Many of these people are relatively healthy, have no history of heart disease, and can even have received a clean bill of health. The Widowmaker looks into how heart scans could be the key to saving lives, and how this technology has been maligned.

Documentary Examines Cardiac Events & Greed

Narrated by Gillian Anderson, the film examines how greed, egos, and wrong decisions have lead to millions of Americans undergoing expensive intervention procedures after they’ve experienced a cardiac event, when perhaps there is a far less expensive preventative measure involving scanning the heart for calcium (which is an indicator of heart disease and plaque) that stands to save lives.

Tracing the history of heart disease treatments through interviews with scientists, inventors, and physicians, the film has a comprehensive and fascinating scope of how the American healthcare system has approached the treatment of heart disease, and how outliers and innovators have fought to change the status quo. While things are slightly different here in Canada, it’s important to know the latest in both treatments and innovations.

Personal Stories Of Experiences With Heart Attacks

The film is peppered with personal stories from those who’ve experienced heart attacks or seen the ones they love pass away from heart disease. It adds a deeply personal and emotional element making the film not a cold, calculated look at a medical and political issue, but a social issue that the affects us all. Recordings of 9-1-1 calls and personal recollections are often particularly emotional.

Director and writer Peter Forbes said he was inspired to create the film after an unforeseen death of a friend. He writes:

“I want people to change their life after seeing this film [...] I’m hoping that out of all the people who see this film, just one thinks maybe I should check out how my heart is. I know I don’t feel bad – and I’m fit and healthy. But as we point out, people like you, like my friend, die by the millions all around the world. And it need not, should not happen.”

The Widowmaker is a very interesting documentary that is informative, watchable, and gives you reason to pause in terms of your heart health.

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