Sydney Salmon, 13, speaks during Rally for Medical Research “Hill Day.”

American Heart Association volunteers visited members of Congress today in Washington, D.C., asking for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health.

AHA joined 170 other research organizations visiting offices of U.S. House and Senate members as part of the Rally for Medical Research “Hill Day.”

Last March, across-the-board federal budget cuts slashed support for the NIH by nearly $1.6 billion – 5 percent of the agency’s total budget. Without more funding, there will be fewer medical research grants, more than 20,000 jobs lost and a $3 billion reduction in new economic activity. The cuts followed a decade of funding that didn’t account for inflation, eroding the NIH’s purchasing power by 20 percent.

“I can only hope we continue the trend of incredible innovations and discoveries – my life depends on it,” said American Heart Association volunteer Sydney Salmon. Extensive medical research is a necessity.”  Salmon, 13, was born with an enlarged heart, leading to a heart transplant before she was a year old.

U.S. death rates from heart disease have fallen more than 60 percent in the last 50 years. Up to two-thirds of this reduction can be traced to research by the NIH that resulted in better treatments, 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 Mariell Jessup, M.D., president of the American Heart Association, who joined the volunteers for congressional visits. “We can help stop this trend with a robust and sustained investment in NIH research.”

The National Institutes of Health is the nation’s medical research agency, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It supports medical research that helps prevent, detect, diagnose and treat disease and disability. It invests 4 percent of its budget on heart disease research and 1 percent on stroke research.

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