The heart is the engine of human life. Beating almost 100,000 times a day, more than 36 million times each year, it endures abuse and trauma with extraordinary resilience. And yet, as more nations become prosperous and lifestyles change, heart disease has become the world's number one killer of men and women alike. In America alone, approximately 3,000 people a day die from cardiovascular disease.
The Mysterious Human Heart, which premieres Mondays, October 15th and 22nd at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), is a new in-depth, comprehensive television series from award-winning filmmaker David Grubin about the heart: how it works, what can go wrong with it, and how we treat it. The three-hour series follows the true, compelling stories of men and women, young and old alike, whose hearts have led them to a brush with mortality. Through these encounters, the series will explore the most common misconceptions about this unique organ, and document the latest scientific and medical revelations - discoveries that have transformed our understanding of the heart and given us new insights into the best ways to prevent heart disease and treat it when it does occur.
A 19-year-old college freshman, a former cowboy in Brazil, a radio journalist, a one-time drug abuser: the only thing heart patients have in common is a malfunctioning heart. The Mysterious Human Heart will introduce viewers to individuals who find themselves on the cutting edge of science and medicine - not only patients, but also the doctors, scientists, engineers, and others whose skills and discoveries are prolonging lives. The series also pays special attention to women and minorities, who have their own unique risks and symptoms, but who have traditionally been neglected when it comes to information about heart health. Filmed around the world and shot in high definition, these stories of inspiration and discovery are enhanced and clarified through incredibly life-like animations that provide viewers with a unique understanding of the inner workings of the heart and the circulatory system. The series also features unique archival footage, powerful dramatic reconstructions and interviews with many of the world's leading heart health experts.
Each of the series' one-hour segments focuses on a different aspect of what we thought we knew, what we know now, and what we're on the verge of learning about the heart. Much of the series' impact will come from the interactions between patients and the specialists who are fighting to save their lives - in some cases by venturing to the far borders of scientific and medical knowledge.
The Hungry Heart, focuses on atherosclerosis, the silent blockage of the coronary arteries, which can trigger a devastating and possibly fatal heart attack. The key is to recognize the risk factors that feed the disease and to control them before it's too late.
The Spark of Life, looks at the physiological electrical mechanisms that keep a heart beating regularly and efficiently - and what happens when this most essential rhythm of life goes awry. The range of treatment options - if not cures - is startling.
Endlessly Beating, examines the heart as a muscle - pumping almost 100,000 times a day, pushing six liters of blood in a ceaseless circuit to deliver oxygen to every cell in the human body. The hour tells the story of the normal heart through the histories of three people with end-stage heart failure, where a pump may be a temporary remedy, but in the long term, a transplant is almost always necessary.
As an extension to the broadcast of The Mysterious Human Heart, Thirteen/WNET will oversee a Community Outreach campaign that partners with leading heart health organizations like WomenHeart and the American Heart Association, as well as with local public television stations around the country to bring heart health and awareness to local communities.
The series Web site, produced by Thirteen/WNET, will offer a spectrum of resources, including insights into historical attempts to understand the heart, a 3-D "tour" of the heart's anatomy, a multimedia primer on preventing heart disease, and lesson plans aimed at the high school classroom. The printed Education Guide will be aimed at a general adult audience and will provide accurate, useful information about the ways to prevent heart disease and keep our hearts healthy.