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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Health > Medical > Heart Disease In America – The Hidden Epidemic (WGBH)

Heart Disease In America – The Hidden Epidemic (WGBH)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Main Program: B+



In the 1970s before the science improved, there were American Heart Association public service announcements left and right.  This dropped off in the 1980s while heart disease suddenly grew to being the #1 killer in the country.  Part of it is from all kinds of food being cheap and super-sized.  Another is the expediential rise of slick advertising to sell the worst possible foods and drinks.  Sure they taste good and who would not want to consume anything they wanted.  Heart Disease In America – The Hidden Epidemic shows the downside of that and more.


Running two hours including a great panel discussion with Larry King and experts on the subject, the show goes to the beginning of the 20th Century and just how unadvanced science was about heart disease.  The two hour program slowly charts the slow rise to understanding the situation including an early first-of-its-kind long-term study of a town of people just to chart their heart health.


Early during this study, President Eisenhower had a heart attack, putting the issue in the headlines for the first time.  One continuously disturbing problem is denial and how many millions it has killed.  People just do not want to believe they can die from heart disease and it is still a major cause of such deaths as you read this.  However, it looks like the science too a long time to catch up with the problem, with the key development of micro-sensors that can fit into veins and arteries only happening in the 1990s.


This is an important program and the kind only public television seems to be able to make.  23 Million of about 300 Million suffer from heart disease and until those probes came about in the 1990s, the amount of plaque inside an artery was not seeable and not even suspected.  Now we know better, but additional factors like health care costs, socio-economic status and the lack of insured add to the problem.  That is the subject of another documentary, but Heart Disease In America – The Hidden Epidemic is a must-see for everyone so they can deal with one of the most undiscussed of issued.  That needs to change.


The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 is good for a documentary, but might have looked better if anamorphically enhanced.  Otherwise, it is watchable and adequate.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no major surrounds, but plays back clearly enough.  Extras include DVD-ROM PDF documents on Heart-Healthy Recipes, 10 Easy Steps To A Healthier Diet from Reader’s Digest, a facts sheets on heart disease and weblink, plus a direct interview with King about the problem.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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