Bill honoring Rep. Barr's late wife passes House committee, would help fight valvular heart disease

Posted at 2:11 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 14:11:10-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LEX 18) — The House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously passed a bill that would honor Congressman Andy Barr's late wife, Carol, while also providing critical research to valvular heart disease.

The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act was introduced by Congressman Barr back in February. The bill now heads to the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.

Barr's wife, Carol, died of mitral valve prolapse (MVP) last year. Their last family picture was taken in June of 2020.

U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) pictured above with his wife Carol Barr and two daughters, Eleanor (left) and Mary Clay (right).

Less than 24 hours later, Congressman Barr's wife collapsed and died in their Lexington home, succumbing to the heart condition, also known as floppy valve syndrome. It's a condition she was told since 7th grade was "no big deal."

Congressman Barr was left to raise their two daughters, just 9 and 7.

Andy Barr opens up about losing his wife

MVP is fairly common in men and women but only 0.2% of them die from it. The problem is there are no risk factors identified and no way to know when it might be fatal.

The CAROL Act authorizes a grant program by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), supporting research on valvular heart disease. Researchers would also identify needs and opportunities to develop prescriptive guidelines to treat patients with MVP. The bill also instructs the CDC to increase public awareness regarding symptoms of valvular heart disease and prevent sudden cardiac death.

"Carol's life was dedicated to serving her community and country. This legislation that honors her extraordinary life and legacy will invest in the critical research needed to prevent the tragedy that impacted our family from happening to others," said Congressman Barr. "I am grateful to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, and Congressman Brett Guthrie, for pushing this legislation through the Committee. It is time to move this bill across the finish line and save lives."

"I hope the CAROL Act receives a vote on the House floor soon, and I will continue to support this bill every step of the way," said Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02), who serves as the lead Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

The CAROL Act is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has worked closely with Barr's team throughout the process.

"I really feel like we're gonna make a difference with this," said Barr in an interview with LEX 18. "It has bipartisan support, we're gonna pass this bill and it's gonna save lives."

'Pay attention to your health': Rep. Andy Barr's message to young families after wife's death

Overall, the bill has over 165 cosponsors in the House, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are leading a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.