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Statement by Daniel W. Jones, M.D., American Heart Association President on President Bush's FY 2009 Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is a statement by Daniel W. Jones, M.D., American Heart Association President:

With his last budget, the president had an opportunity to leave his mark in the fight against cardiovascular disease, our nation's No. 1 killer and costliest disease. Instead, his proposal will cut resources that would bring us closer to a cure. We're making steady progress in combating heart disease and stroke, but that momentum will be lost if research and prevention programs fall victim to heartless budget cuts.

We are deeply troubled that funding for heart and stroke research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is below medical research inflation for the sixth year in a row. With our economy in decline, we had hoped that the president would have recognized the strong link between medical research and economic growth. By making a substantial investment in NIH, our elected leaders could promote a strong and vigorous research enterprise that will save lives and boost the economy.

Heart disease and stroke prevention programs funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also help Americans live longer, more productive lives. Unfortunately, proposed funding for these programs was cut as well. Even though cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in all 50 states, only 13 currently receive funding to implement prevention programs for heart disease and stroke. The president also zeroed out a successful program to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in rural communities by providing them with automated external defibrillators.

More than 80 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease and pay exorbitant medical costs. Quality and affordable care should be paramount yet the president has proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, reducing access for millions of Americans -- with often tragic consequences.

As Congress debates the president's proposal, it is also important to note that cardiovascular disease deaths are expected to skyrocket as baby boomers age. Shortsighted budget cuts will not only roll back the progress we've made to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases, it will escalate a public health crisis that could be avoided with commonsense solutions.

SOURCE American Heart Association
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