American Heart Association Urges New Congress to Tackle Impending Baby Boomer Health Care Crisis

WASHINGTON, (PRNewswire) — The American Heart Association (AHA) this week urged the new congressional leadership to take proactive measures to avert a cardiovascular crisis among aging baby boomers and place increased funding for heart disease and stroke research and prevention programs high on their health care agenda.

“It is short sighted to restrict funding for programs that can reduce the health care costs of the aging baby boomer population,” said Raymond Gibbons, M.D., President of the AHA and a staff cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. “Our newly elected leaders must give biomedical research and disease prevention a higher priority for funding to prevent a crisis that threatens to erode the progress we have made to combat cardiovascular disease – our nation’s number one killer.”

An estimated 71 million American adults now suffer from heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular diseases. Studies suggest that increased rates of diabetes, obesity and other risk factors may reverse four decades of declining mortality. As the baby boom generation ages, deaths from heart disease alone are projected to increase by 130 percent between 2000 and 2050.

Cardiovascular disease is also a major contributor to escalating health care costs. This year, the disease will cost Americans an estimated $403 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity. The aging of the population is projected to drive up costs for cardiovascular disease 54 percent by 2025.

“We will soon face a crisis of staggering proportions unless we tackle this head-on,” said Gibbons. “A strong financial commitment to heart and stroke research will save thousands of lives of baby boomers and help prevent these dramatic increases in costs.”

Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has failed to keep pace with medical research inflation, resulting in fewer grants to new investigators and fewer discoveries that can lead to cures for cardiovascular disease. NIH invests a mere $94 per American per year on biomedical research and only $8 per American per year on heart and stroke research. The Association is calling for a five percent increase in FY 2007 to support innovative research that can significantly reduce death and disability from cardiovascular disease.

The Association also urged Congress to take immediate action on the following:

— Increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Division;
— Increase funding for the Rural and Community Access to Emergency
Devices Program;
— Passage of HEART for Women Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at
improving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease in
— Passage of STOP Stroke Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that
stroke is more widely recognized by the public and treated more
effectively by healthcare providers.
— Passage of legislation that would authorize the Food and Drug
Administration to regulate the tobacco industry.

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