CLS applauds Congress for passage of the CAROL Act, supporting research for valvular heart disease


December 5, 2022

California Life Sciences (CLS) commends the Senate and the House of Representatives on the passage of the Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act, which will support research and increased public awareness of valvular heart disease.  The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support; it now moves on to President Biden to become law.

U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) introduced the bill last year to honor the legacy of his wife, Elenor “Carol” Leavell Barr, who passed away at 39 years old from sudden cardiac death brought on by mitral valve prolapse, an underlying heart condition and the most common valvular abnormality that affects about three percent of Americans and causes death in 0.2% of those cases. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) championed the bill in the Senate.

The CAROL Act provides funds to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase research into understanding the cause and risk factors associated with valvular heart disease (VHD), including potential risk factors for sudden cardiac death. Importantly, the bill also directs NIH to convene subject matter experts and stakeholders to develop recommendations for the identification and treatment of patients with mitral valve prolapse.

“The CAROL Act highlights the importance of all sectors working together–government, industry, research medical centers and patients–to help increase patient awareness of heart disease and to drive new advancements in treatments that will further ensure our California medical technology companies can advance their technology to serve patients,” said Mike Guerra, president and CEO of CLS.

Each year, approximately 25,000 Americans lose their lives to valvular heart disease, which occurs when one of a patient’s heart valves becomes damaged or diseased. More than 8 million Americans suffer from valvular heart disease and face the threat of sudden and potentially fatal cardiac arrest. Over the years, medical technology companies, many of them based in California, have made incredible advancements in valve repair and replacement procedures with non-invasive procedures that ensure patients can lead long, healthy and fulfilling lives. However, more patient and provider education is needed to ensure that patients are diagnosed and that all of the risk factors are fully understood.

“The CAROL Act is a meaningful tribute to Carol Barr and significant for patients and families impacted by heart valve disease. Representative Barr is a committed and compassionate champion, dedicated to improving patient care. CLS looks forward to working with Rep. Barr to implement the CAROL Act raising awareness and enhancing research and education focused on heart valve diseases,” said Dirksen Lehman, Corporate Vice President of Public Affairs, Edwards Lifesciences and Chairman of CLS.

We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of increasing research and education in mitral valve disease that will ensure better diagnosis, care and treatments in the future.  The CAROL Act is a critical step to ensure that the tragedy the Barr family has endured can be prevented for patients in the future.