Scientists who seek NIH funding for cardiovascular disease and/or stroke research know all too well that heart and stroke research receives a disproportionate amount of NIH dollars. For example, federal research dollars spent per heart disease death equals less than 3% of federal research dollars spent per AIDS death, and federal dollars spent per stroke death equals less than 2% of dollars spent for AIDS death (FY 1994).
Faced with this trend, the American Heart Association and other concerned organizations are forming the National Coalition for Heart and Stroke Research. The mission of this coalition will be to influence the process by which the Executive Branch and Congress determine levels of funding for cardiovascular and stroke research in favor of increased allocations. The functions of the coalition will be to generate larger grassroots support for increased heart and stroke research funding, to foster and support activities and strategies to increase research funds, and to generate increased media coverage of heart and stroke issues.
The coalition hopes to recruit a celebrity spokesperson and an honorary celebrity committee to help bring attention to this important issue. Organizations with an interest in heart and/or stroke research are welcome to join. For more information, please contact Kelly Boyles at the AHA Office of Public Affairs: phone 202-822-9380 or fax 202-822-9883.
In addition, the following talking points might be of use to readers who want to write a letter to or visit their US senators and representatives.
1. The AHA advocates a significant increase in heart and stroke research dollars, not at the expense of other biomedical research, but using their allocations as a benchmark.
2. Common misconceptions about heart disease and stroke include (1) that they are a natural part of aging; (2) that they do not affect children and younger Americans; and (3) that they are less of a threat to the US population than cancer or AIDS.
3. About one in four Americans suffers from cardiovascular diseases, at an annual cost of more than $130 billion.
4. In FY 1994, more federal funds were spent on aircraft spare and repair parts for the Navy alone (not including Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, etc) than was spent on all heart research at the NIH. (Source: Budget of the United States Government, FY 1996.)
5. In FY 1994, more federal funds were spent on “communications, utilities, and miscellaneous charges” by the Internal Revenue Service than were spent on all stroke research at the NIH. (Source: Budget of the United States Government, FY 1996.)
6. Only 0.62% of expenditures for cardiovascular health care in the United States are being invested in NIH heart and stroke research.
7. In constant dollars since 1985, the overall NIH budget has increased by 31.5%, compared with 4.5% for NHLBI. The NHLBI’s buying power is at its FY 1985 level.
8. Promising research opportunities in the areas of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, which will be impossible to exploit without additional resources, include identification and mapping of genes responsible for high blood pressure; better understanding of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); development of reliable, safe, efficient, and cost-effective diagnostic approaches for evaluating women with suspected heart disease; and greater understanding of stroke through use of new genetic and immunologic technologies.
9. Not only do Americans want more spent on biomedical research, but Americans are willing to pay for it. According to a 1993 public opinion poll by Harris & Associates, 74% are willing to spend $1 more per week in taxes if assured that the money would be spent for additional biomedical research.
- Copyright © 1996 by American Heart Association