"This is Us" Medical Reference is a Real Thing

Fred Bodimer
February 07, 2018 - 8:45 am
ECG with a heart attack in hospital ward

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Fans of the popular tv series "This is Us"  have been googling the term "widowmaker" quite a lot these past couple days.  

The most recent episode finally answers the question how Jack Pearson died years ago.  It was from what doctors called a widowmaker heart attack, after saving the family, a pet and family heirlooms from a fire.  SLU Care interventional cardiologist Dr. Michael Lim at SSM Health SLU Hospital says the widowmaker is a traditionally fatal blockage of the left anterior descending artery, the largest of three arteries providing blood to the heart.

"Stressful situations have been triggers for heart attacks, and inhaling smoke from a fire has been a trigger for heart attacks, and unfortunately way too many firefighters in our area know that to be the case," he says. 

Lim says the widowmaker is not unforeseeable and it does happen in the real world similar to the way it was depicted in this episode.