Heart Disease Advocates Urge Congress to Support Heart Disease Policies
Everywhere I go I see signs. Not a "sign," but literally signs. It's so obviously an election year. Political jargon floods billboards, yards and our televisions. But as I read up on the local candidates in my area, I realize this is also a time to call on the lawmakers already in office.
This week people from all 50 states converged in Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to step up the fight against heart disease and stroke. It's part of the American Heart Association's You're the Cure on the Hill, where nearly 700 advocates wore red and met with their representatives. The goal was to urge members of Congress to support public policies that will help reduce death and disability from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases--the nation's number one killer. Ways to do that include boosting funding for heart and stroke research and to increase prevention programs.
The advocates this week included young people, researchers and heart and stroke survivors. Their message was "help us save lives." They asked for support in several specific areas: one was to increase funding for heart and stroke research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH invests 7 percent of its budget on heart research and one percent on stroke. Due to medical inflation, the funding for cardiovascular research has declined 15 percent over the past five years. So, more funding is needed to help not only our nation's health, but also the economy.
Advocates also asked lawmakers to cosponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, which I've written about before. This act would amend the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to make physical education a high priority in schools.
Finally, lawmakers were asked to increase funding for the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. This division provides grants to states to implement programs to reduce risk factors for heart disease and stroke and improve emergency response among other things. Even though cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in the U.S., only 13 states receive funding from this program. Increased funding to help screen uninsured, under-insured and low-income women for heart disease and stroke was also on the agenda.
If you weren't able to attend Lobby Day and still want your voice heard, you can become an advocate through the AHA. It will make it easy to email, fax, phone or even visit your legislators at some point. The AHA will also keep you informed on the progress. Just click on the AHA's "You're the Cure" link to sign up.