(CNSNews.com) - This is "heart and stroke lobby day" on Capitol Hill, and the American Heart Association is telling lawmakers that they are just as instrumental as heart surgeons when it comes to saving lives.
On Tuesday, than 550 "citizen advocates" were asking Members of Congress to help reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease -- with more funding for research and new laws.
The advocates, including heart attack and stroke victims, are being joined by Subway restaurants spokesperson Jared Fogle, the American Heart Association said in a press release.
"Our volunteers have come to Washington, D.C., to ask their officials to take action and turn the tide on these diseases, by investing in heart disease and stroke research and prevention, and supporting legislation that addresses tobacco use and obesity," said Alice Jacobs, M.D., president of the American Heart Association.
But this year, the citizen lobbyists have a new message for Congress: "We are reminding them that for heart disease and stroke, they are the cure," said William Colledge, chairman of the board of the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association says elected officials can save lives just as heart surgeons can -- by supporting policies that promote the research and prevention strategies.
"They can also encourage children to be more physically active and fight obesity through programs like Safe Routes to School, and reduce the number of senseless deaths that result from tobacco use by enacting FDA legislation," Colledge said.
The American Heart Association estimates that stroke and heart attack will cost the nation an estimated $394 billion this year alone - more than any other disease.
"We can all be part of the cure for heart disease and stroke," said Jacobs. "These are our nation's leading killers. We hope Congress makes them a leading concern."
The American Heart Association's wish list includes the following:
-- A $30 billion appropriation for the National Institutes of Health and $55.6 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-- Passage of the Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act (STOP Stroke Act), legislation aimed at making stroke more widely recognized by the public and more effectively treated by health care professionals.
-- Policies that will help reduce obesity, including the Safe Routes to School provision in the transportation reauthorization legislation (a program that encourages children to walk or bike to school); and sound nutrition policy in the reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Program legislation.
-- Legislation granting the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacture, sale and distribution of tobacco products, including marketing aimed at youth.
"We can all be part of the cure for heart disease and stroke," said AHA President Jacobs. "These are our nation's leading killers. We hope Congress makes them a leading concern."
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