Hundreds of Heart Disease and Stroke Survivors Urge Congress to Step Up the Fight Against the Nation's No. 1 Killer

American Heart Association advocates call on lawmakers to support research and prevention

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With risk factors for heart disease and stroke steadily increasing, youth advocates, heart and stroke survivors and researchers from across the country today urged Congress to make a commitment to save lives. They met with their representatives for the American Heart Association's (AHA) Congressional Lobby Day, You're the Cure on the Hill 2008, to boost funding for research and prevention programs to fight cardiovascular diseases, the nation's No. 1 killer. AHA President Daniel Jones, M.D., President-Elect Timothy Gardner, M.D., CEO M. Cass Wheeler and Board Chairman Gary Ellis also met with House and Senate leadership.

"If we hope to find a cure for cardiovascular diseases, our elected officials must support a strong and sustained investment in research and prevention," said Daniel W. Jones, M.D., President of the American Heart Association. "Recent studies point to a surge in obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure -- risk factors for heart disease and stroke. We must ramp up efforts to educate Americans and policymakers about the need to prevent disease before it strikes."

Nearly 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 37 seconds. Although the death rate for cardiovascular disease has moved downward, risk factors are on the upswing. For example, two-out-of-three U.S. adults are overweight; one-out-of-three is obese. The number of overweight children ages 6-11 has more than quadrupled in the past 30 years. More than 46 million adults smoke daily and about 4,000 people ages 12-17 begin smoking every day.

More than 600 advocates called on their representatives to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the CDC's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program and cosponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, legislation to amend No Child Left Behind to make quality physical education a priority in schools. Visit www.yourethecureonthehill.heart.org. The association's nationwide You're the Cure grassroots network consists of more than 200,000 volunteers dedicated to finding cures for heart disease and stroke.

Health and nutrition advocate and supporter of AHA's Start! movement Jared Fogle shared his personal story of overcoming childhood obesity with the youth advocates and discussed the importance of physical activity and healthy eating at the Public Service Awards reception. Start! is the AHA's movement to get Americans more physically active.

During You're the Cure on the Hill, advocates asked lawmakers to significantly boost funding for heart disease and stroke research and prevention and cosponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. Specific asks included:

* Co-sponsor the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act - federal legislation that would amend No Child Left Behind to make quality physical education a priority in schools.

* Appropriate $31 billion for the National Institutes of Health for fiscal year '09.

* Appropriate $70 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program and $25 million for WISEWOMAN for fiscal year '09 so more states can implement these life-saving programs.

The association also recognized public officials and volunteers for their efforts in the fight against heart disease and stroke. This year's Public Service Award honorees include Representatives Nicholas Lampson (D-TX) and Randy Kuhl (R-NY) for offering nutrition provisions to the Farm Bill and introducing CPR and AED Awareness Week legislation respectively. Congressional staffers Ben Klein, Legislative Director to Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Amy Fisher, Health Legislative Assistant to Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) also received Public Service Awards for advancing legislation supported by the association.

The following advocates were honored for their dedication and contributions to the association and its advocacy mission: Jennifer Telschow of Pineville, NC (Youth Advocate of the Year); Al Phillips of Livonia, MI (Survivor of the Year); Tracey Kennedy of Wakefield, RI (Volunteer of the Year); and Russell Luepker, M.D. of Minneapolis, MN (Science Advocate of the Year).

SOURCE American Heart Association

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