Barr proposes bill to fund federal research on valvular heart disease

With roughly 25,000 Americans losing their lives every year to valvular heart disease, including the wife of U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) last year, the congressman on Feb. 22 introduced legislation to authorize a federal grant program to support related research.

The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act, H.R. 1193, is named for Rep. Barr’s wife, Carol Leavell Barr, who died in 2020 from sudden cardiac arrest most likely brought on by ventricular arrhythmia. The measure would authorize a grant program administered by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to fund research on valvular heart disease.

“Through this legislation, we provide the investments, resources and awareness needed to inform others about valvular heart disease and save lives,” Rep. Barr said on Tuesday. “Turning this tragedy into something positive is exactly what Carol would have wanted us to do, and I will champion this cause for the rest of my life.”

If enacted, H.R. 1193 specifically would direct the National Institutes of Health to consult with NHLBI on establishing the federal grant program, according to the congressional record bill summary.

The use of technological imaging and precision medicine to generate data on individuals with valvular disease would be encouraged under the bill, which also would call for a workshop to be convened comprised of subject matter experts who would identify research opportunities to develop prescriptive guidelines for treating patients with an underlying condition called mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or floppy valve syndrome.

MVP is a typically benign condition that results in sudden cardiac death in only 0.2 percent of cases, according to Rep. Barr’s office, which noted that Carol Barr suffered from MVP.

Additionally, H.R. 1193 would instruct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase public awareness regarding symptoms of valvular heart disease and effective strategies for preventing sudden cardiac death.

The CAROL Act has been endorsed by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and WomenHeart.