Washington, D.C.— Today, the Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act unanimously passed through the U.S. House of Representatives.  U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) championed the legislation to honor the legacy of his late-wife Eleanor “Carol” Leavell Barr, who passed away last year at 39 years old from sudden cardiac death.  The CAROL Act makes critical investments in research for valvular heart disease.  The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are leading a companion bill.

The CAROL Act authorizes a grant program administered by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), supporting research on valvular heart disease.  It also convenes a workshop of subject matter experts to identify research needs and opportunities to develop prescriptive guidelines for treatment of patients with MVP.  Finally, the bill instructs the Centers for Disease Control to increase public awareness regarding symptoms of valvular heart disease and effective strategies for preventing sudden cardiac death.

“With today’s vote, we are one step closer to pushing the CAROL Act across the finish line and enshrining Carol Barr’s legacy,” said Congressman Barr.  “This bill delivers critical resources to close the gaps in understanding about valvular heart disease and save lives.  I am grateful to the American Heart Association, WomenHeart, the American College of Cardiology and so many of my colleagues who supported this bill from the start.”  

“Carol Barr was a devoted mother, an accomplished professional, and a supportive spouse.  Her grace and compassion made an everlasting impact on the world, and especially on her family and community.  Andy was blessed with a wonderful wife and their daughters were fortunate to have an amazing mother.  There is no better way to honor her memory than to support initiatives that will help save lives,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.  “I am in awe of Andy’s strength in navigating grief to work on the CAROL Act – legislation that will provide $20 million in research grants to study valvular heart problems.  It is a fitting tribute to Carol’s legacy.  It is an honor to support this legislation alongside my colleagues.”

“I know the pain of losing a spouse to a deadly disease while still young—nobody can prepare you for that kind of loss.  I hope that Rep. Barr and his family can take comfort in the passage today of the CAROL Act, which will promote research that will help spare other families in the future from experiencing that pain,” said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer.  “I thank Rep. Barr for his leadership and work to advance this important legislation in his late wife’s memory.  Carol’s legacy lives on, not only in those she knew and loved but also in the countless Americans whose lives will be saved by the research into heart valve diseases undertaken in her memory.”  

“Earlier today, I had the privilege of honoring Carol Barr’s legacy on the House Floor by speaking in favor of the CAROL Act.  Thank you, Congressman Barr, for introducing this life-saving legislation that will expand research on valvular heart disease and its treatment.  No family member should lose a loved one to this horrible disease, and the CAROL Act brings us towards this future,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise.

“One of the most troubling aspects of mitral valve prolapse is just how much we still don’t know about the causes and risk factors that can lead to it. The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act takes a number of crucial steps to help us learn more about the condition, including through the establishment of a national registry of cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association is pleased to support the CAROL Act and profoundly thanks Rep. Barr’s for his efforts to advance our understanding and awareness of heart valve disease, which kills approximately 25,000 people each year,” said Mark Schoeberl, Executive Vice President, Advocacy, American Heart Association.

"The passage of the CAROL (Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy) Act not only serves as a spark of hope for many cardiovascular patients, but will truly honor Congressman's Barr's wife.  The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is enormously thankful to the Congressman and his staff, and is proud to have played a role in the process,” said ACC Health Affairs Committee Chair Samuel O. Jones IV, MD, MPH, FACC.  “More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with valvular heart disease each year and this vital legislation helps spread awareness on a critical area of cardiovascular health. This legislation will make needed impacts on research and education to improve care for our patients. We are grateful for those, like Congressman Barr, that champion efforts to enhance heart health and look forward to continued partnerships.”

“Women are more likely than men to go undiagnosed, and therefore to go untreated, for heart valve disease. By investing in research and increasing awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of heart valve disease, as well as screening and detection efforts, the CAROL Act will help address that inequity and will save lives. WomenHeart thanks Congressman Barr for championing passage of this bill in the House, and we look forward to seeing it pass in the Senate,” said Celina Gorre, CEO of WomenHeart.