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CAROL Act: Subcommittee holds hearing on bill honoring Rep. Barr's late wife, would help fight valvular heart disease

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 19:09:11-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LEX 18) — The U.S. Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would honor Congressman Andy Barr's late wife, Carol, and also bring attention to valvular heart disease.

The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act, introduced by Congressman Barr back in February, aims specifically at researching heart valve disease. The hearing is the first step in moving the bill toward ultimate passage.

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

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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 would form a coalition of researchers to answer those questions and to launch an awareness campaign to help another family avoid tragedy.

On Wednesday, Rep. Brett Guthrie led the charge for the CAROL Act in the U.S. Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which Rep. Guthrie is the lead Republican on.

Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and other members of the Committee, both Republican and Democrat, spoke in favor of the bill:

"Today's hearing was a key step toward passage of the CAROL Act, which has tremendous bipartisan momentum in Congress," said Congressman Barr in a statement. "Investing in research to identify individuals at high risk of bad outcomes from valvular heart disease will save lives. I want to thank my friend, Congressman Brett Guthrie, Chairman Frank Pallone and all my colleagues who are supporting the CAROL Act in the House."

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.