University of Minnesota

The United States National Heart Act

Whereas the Congress hereby finds and declares that the NationĀ¹s health is seriously threatened by diseases of the heart and circulation, including high blood pressure, which annually kill over five hundred and eighty-eight thousand of our people and disable approximately seven million eight hundred thousand more. These diseases are the main cause of death in the United States and more than one in every three of our people die from them; and

Whereas it is therefore the policy of the United States to provide for research and control relating to diseases of the heart and circulation in a supreme endeavor to develop speedily more effective means of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of such diseases: Now therefore Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the Act may be cited as the National Heart Act. (U.S. Congress 1948, 464)

[ed. This version of the National Heart Act of the U.S. Congress, authorizing establishment of the National Heart Institute, was introduced by Senate stalwarts Styles Bridges, a Republican from New Hampshire, and Claude Pepper, a Democrat from Florida. The authors were even foresighted enough to write provisions into the legislation for those who would plan and carry out the mission:]

The new law will also create a National Advisory Heart Council, composed of federal medical service representatives and 12 additional members appointed by the Surgeon General with the approval of the Federal Security Administrator (ibid, 467).

[ed. The National Heart Act authorized establishment of the National Heart Institute (NHI), which opened as a new institute of NIH in fall 1948 to support clinical, laboratory, and extramural research in cardiovascular diseases. Its function would be extended and its name changed to the National Heart and Lung Institute in 1969 and to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 1976. (Henry Blackburn)]


U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. 1948. The National Heart Act of 1948. 80th Congress, 2nd Session. S. Rep. 2215.