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The Angry Heart. The Impact of Racism of Heart Disease Among African Americans

Distributed by Fanlight Productions, 4196Washington St., Ste 2, Boston, MA 02131; 800-937-4113
Produced by Jay Fedigan
Director n/a
VHS, color, 60 min.
Health Sciences

Reviewed by Lori Widzinski, Health Sciences Library, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   

Racism is not usually a term associated with health care. Yet there is enough research and anecdotal evidence to prove that it is as insidious and dangerous an issue in public health as it is in society. In fact, the effect of racism on the emotional and physical health of stigmatized groups is almost a mirror image of the effect on the group as a whole. The Angry Heart skillfully breaks the issue of racism into understandable parts and illustrates how they affect health and health care of African Americans by telling the story of Keith Hartgrove.

A survivor of three heart attacks and quadruple bypass by the age of 45, the profile of Hartgove brings to life the statistics provided by researchers, scientists, and physicians interviewed in the film. African Americans have the highest rate of hypertension, the highest death rate from cardiovascular disease, and receive sub-standard health care in the U.S. It is interesting and eye-opening to realize that the deep roots of prejudice and discrimination in our country contribute to the conscious and sub-conscious education of our healthcare providers. The burden of racism creates stress, a key factor in cardiovascular illness. In its three manifestations, institutional, personal and internalized, more and more data show that racism affects the quality of care given to African Americans resulting in less diagnostic testing, fewer referrals, and patient education.

Like a good novel, The Angry Heart marries facts and emotion to create a connection with the viewer that touches the brain and the heart. The scholarly interviews with researchers, physicians, and community leaders in the film are well balanced with the touching narration of his experience by Keith and his wise and personable mother. Suitable for undergraduate through graduate level courses, it should be required viewing in medical schools (and all health sciences educational programs for that matter). Highly Recommended