The School of Medicine at the University of Louisville (UofL) recently received two grants from The Humana Foundation totaling nearly $1.2 million to address heart health in the Black community.

The three-year grants will support dietary interventions aimed at improving the heart health of Black Americans, many of whom experience barriers to health care.

“UofL continues to appreciate the support of The Humana Foundation in addressing health equity,” said university president Kim Schatzel in a UofL news release. “Their generous support will enable us to conduct the important work of engaging with communities of color to research the role of nutrition, food quality and diagnostic screening as they relate to heart health.”

Each of the grants will fund regional nutrition programs targeting underserved communities in the Louisville area. The larger grant, totaling $1,037,000, will support the DISPARITY Trial (DISPARITY stands for Dietary Intervention for primary and Secondary Prevention And Plaque Regression Investigated with Computed TomographY and will address cardiac health disparities in older Black adults by way of screening for cardiac disease and nutrition-based interventions.

The second grant, totaling $154,000, will support the H.E.A.R.T. of Louisville Project: Helping Everyone Address Risk Today, which will identify Black people at-risk for coronary disease and enroll them in long-term nutrition and lifestyle interventions.

“Every day, people face a multitude of choices that can affect their health and quality of life,” Humana CEO Tiffany Benjamin said. “In too many communities, these choices are limited by factors beyond their control. That is why we are expanding healthy choices for communities and eliminating social and structural barriers, so that more people can reach their full health potential.”

Cardiologist Kim Allan Williams, MD, the chair of the UofL department of medicine, said there is a connection between food insecurity and health care disparities.

“Nutrition education and food-quality issues plague our African-American community, keeping heart disease as the leading killer of Americans,” he said. “Our trials will help detect disease in those who are at risk and manage those already diagnosed using lifestyle changes, medication, enhanced access to cardiac care and advanced diagnostic imaging.”