American Heart Association volunteers from around the country came to the nation’s capital today to urge Congress to invest in the National Institutes of Health for the health and economic security of our nation.
The group joined 250 representatives from more than 170 research organizations on visits to the offices of both U.S. House and Senate members during a Rally for Medical Research “Hill Day.”
Last March, because of the sequester, federal support for the NIH was slashed nearly $1.6 billion – which is 5 percent of the agency’s total budget. A cut of this magnitude, if left in place, will reduce the number of planned research grants, cost more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and shrink new economic activity by nearly $3 billion. The most recent cuts follow a decade of stagnant funding during which the NIH has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power to inflation.
Speaking at an event for the research advocates participating in the Hill Day, 13 year-old Sydney Salmon, an association volunteer from Springdale, Arkansas who was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy said, “I can only hope we continue the trend of incredible innovations and discoveries - my life depends on it. Extensive medical research is a necessity.” Salmon had a heart transplant before she was one year-old and has to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.
(Note: You can see Sydney’s full speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOyFf29-qLI&feature=youtu.be )
U.S. death rates from heart disease have fallen more than 60 percent in the last half-century. As much as two-thirds of this reduction can be traced to research by the NIH that resulted in better treatments and medications, and improved health‐related behaviors.
“By 2030, more than 40 percent of Americans are projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease, costing this country billions of dollars in healthcare costs,” said American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup, M.D. who joined the volunteers for congressional visits. “We can help stop this trend with a robust and sustained investment in NIH research.”