FYI from the NHLBI Index

June 2005: Vol. 6, Issue 1
In the News

News from Capitol Hill

Recent Advances from the NHLBI

  • Smoking Cessation Programs Improve Survival
  • Across Racial Groups, Diuretics Still Best for Treating High Blood Pressure

News from Capitol Hill

Fiscal Year 2006 Appropriations

Capitol DomeAt a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies held on March 9, Dr. Zerhouni, Dr. Nabel, and other NIH directors highlighted specific areas in which the NIH has made progress and described ongoing activities. Representatives asked questions about topics such as obesity, cardiovascular complications associated with long-term use of COX-2 inhibitors, and recent findings from the NHLBI-supported Women’s Health Study on the use of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. At a hearing of the corresponding Senate Appropriations Subcommittee held on April 6, questions focused on the President’s policy on stem cell research and the new NIH conflict of interest policy.

Selected Bills and Resolutions Introduced

After the 109th Congress convened on January 4, members introduced several bills, including:

  • The Biomedical Research Assistance Voluntary Option Act (H.R. 370), which would allow taxpayers to designate part of any income tax refund to be donated to the NIH for biomedical research.
  • The Prevention of Childhood Obesity Act (S. 799), which includes a provision that would require the NIH Director to intensify research addressing the prevention of childhood obesity.
  • The Screening Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Very Efficiently (SAAAVE) Act of 2005 (H.R. 827, S. 390), which would provide for coverage of ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms under part B of the Medicare program.
  • The Teague Ryan Sudden Child Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes Screening and Education Act of 2005 (H.R. 1252), which would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to award grants for screening programs to identify children who have sudden cardiac arrhythmia syndromes.
  • The Stem Cell Research Investment Act of 2005 (H.R. 1650), which would provide tax credits to holders of bonds issued by state or local governments for support of stem cell research.

Members also have introduced resolutions to:

  • Support the goals and ideals of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month (H.Con.Res. 10).
  • Designate March as Deep-Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month (S.Res. 56).
  • Recognize the 100th anniversary of the American Thoracic Society (S.Res. 114).
  • Designate May 2005 as National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month (S.Res. 115).
  • Recognize America’s Blood Centers for commitment to providing a safe and adequate blood supply (H.Res. 220).
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Recent Advances from the NHLBI

Smoking Cessation Programs Improve Survival

New findings from the Lung Health Study (LHS), supported by the NHLBI, show that smoking cessation can greatly improve long-term survival even among smokers whose lung function is already impaired.

The LHS followed nearly 5,900 middle-aged smokers who had mildly or moderately abnormal lung function but were otherwise healthy. They were assigned to receive either a 10-week intensive smoking cessation program that included behavior modification, use of nicotine gum, and a five-year maintenance program to minimize relapse, or no intervention at all. Five years after the program began, only about 22 percent of people who received intensive intervention were sustained quitters - compared with about 5 percent of those receiving no intervention. Nonetheless, after 14.5 years, the death rate for those in the smoking cessation program was about 15 percent lower than for participants in the non-intervention group.

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Across Racial Groups, Diuretics Still Best for Treating High Blood Pressure

Diuretics work better than newer therapies in treating high blood pressure and reducing risk of heart disease in both black and non-black patients, according to a long-term, multi-center trial of antihypertensive therapies funded by the NHLBI. An analysis of race-specific data from the ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial) confirms earlier findings on the overall effectiveness of diuretics and emphasizes that diuretics should be preferred as a first therapy for most patients with high blood pressure.

Across both racial subgroups, a substantially higher risk of heart failure - 37 percent - was found among participants taking calcium channel blockers compared with those on diuretics. When compared with ACE inhibitors, diuretics were more effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, especially heart failure, for all participants and more effective in reducing high blood pressure and preventing stroke in black patients.

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