Finding a cure for atrial fibrillation
Today’s guest blogger is Congressman Ruppersberger’s Capitol Hill intern, Molly McKee.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger frequently meets with members of the medical community advocating on behalf of those suffering from various diseases, illnesses and conditions. He says that one group has always stuck out to him: those urging lawmakers to support research funding for a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
Already, 2.5 million Americans are suffering from atrial fibrillation, but this number could soar to nearly 16 million by 2050. These patients have an irregular heartbeat that can cause blood clots and even strokes. They often feel like their heart is racing or beating out of its chest and can become dizzy and faint. It’s often difficult for people with atrial fibrillation to concentrate and even sleep.
Last month, I attended a briefing hosted by Congressman Ruppersberger’s office designed to educate Capitol Hill staffers about the importance of atrial fibrillation research. The event featured Dr. Hugh Calkins, who is considered the world’s leading expert on atrial fibrillation and heads the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins. Mellanie True Hills, a patient advocate and founder of StopAFib.org, provide a powerful first-hand account of her experience with atrial fibrillation.
In addition to the briefing, Congressman Ruppersberger is sponsoring legislation to promote awareness, diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation. He believes that addressing this often-overlooked condition can also reduce healthcare costs. In fact, Ms. True Hills estimates that treatment can cost $15.6 billion each year, not counting the out-of-pocket costs to patients. We hope atrial fibrillation catches the eyes of other lawmakers so we can expand research and treatment options.