WASHINGTON, D.C. (LEX 18) — The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act, introduced by Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr to honor his late wife, has passed a Senate committee vote.
The bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. It will head to the full Senate for a vote before heading to President Biden's desk.
The CAROL Act supports research and public awareness of valvular heart disease, a condition that occurs when one of a patient’s heart valves becomes damaged or diseased. According to the CDC, more than 8 million Americans suffer from valvular heart disease and nearly 25,000 Americans die from it every year.
Congressman Barr introduced the legislation after his wife, Carol, suddenly died of mitral valve prolapse (MVP) in 2020, less than 24 hours after taking their last family picture in June. Growing up, she was told the heart condition was "no big deal."
MVP is fairly common in men and women but only 0.2% of them die from it. However, no risk factors have been identified, meaning there's no way to know when it might be fatal.
The CAROL Act would form a coalition of researchers to answer those questions and launch an awareness campaign to help another family avoid tragedy.
The American Heart Association endorses the CAROL Act, as do Republicans and Democrats alike. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema led the CAROL Act through the Senate HELP Committee.
“Carol Barr dedicated her life to making a positive difference in her community and serving others," said McConnell. "The CAROL Act is a fitting tribute to her wonderful legacy and supports significant federal resources to prevent future families from enduring the sudden, tragic loss of a loved one. I applaud Congressman Barr for leading this legislation and was proud to stand by his side to help lead it successfully out of committee."
Barr believes this legislation will make a difference in the lives of everyone affected by valvular heart disease.
"It has bipartisan support," he said in an interview with LEX 18. "We're gonna pass this bill and it's gonna save lives."