More than 300 American Heart Association volunteers came to Washington, D.C. today to urge Congress to restore federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and to support a Million Hearts campaign to attack the growing problem of high blood pressure – public health enemy No. 2 behind tobacco.
Heart disease and stroke survivors, researchers, and healthcare professionals from around the country are meeting with their congressional representatives to ask them to allocate $32 billion for the NIH for 2014, to restore funding cut by the sequester and get NIH back on track.
The March 1 sequester slashed nearly $1.5 billion, or 5 percent, of the NIH budget. A cut of this magnitude will reduce the number of planned research grants by about 2,300, cost more than 20,000 jobs nationwide and shrink new economic activity by nearly $3 billion. A typical NIH grant supports about seven full-time or part-time jobs, most of them high-tech. Every dollar that the NIH distributes through grants returns more than $2 in goods and services annually to a local community.
“If the NIH cuts remain in place, they will damage our fragile economy and threaten our nation’s position as the global leader in medical research,” said American Heart Association President Donna Arnett, Ph.D., MSPH. “More importantly, medical research is vital to discovering new treatments and even cures for generations to come. We must not give up the fight to increase federal support for the NIH.”
Advocates also asked Congress to fund a $35 million Million Hearts Initiative to tackle one of the nation’s most significant public health problems, high blood pressure. More than one in three adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but less than half have their condition under control. High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart attack or stroke.
Visit the You're the Cure Facebook page for some great photos and stay tuned for further updates about the amazing advocates who made their voices heard on Capitol Hill.