Nov. 22, 2022 – New research shows that cholesterol metrics commonly used to gauge heart disease risk are not equally predictive for Black and white people. 

Using data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study, scientists concluded that low levels of HDL cholesterol – the so-called good cholesterol – are not associated with higher heart disease risk for Black people, although low HDL remained a risk factor for white people. 

The new findings also reinforced emerging evidence that high levels of HDL are not associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular events. That finding applies to both Black and white people.

“What I hope this type of research establishes is the need to revisit the risk-predicting algorithm for cardiovascular disease,” study author Nathalie Pamir, PhD, said in a National Institutes of Health news release. “It could mean that in the future we don’t get a pat on the back by our doctors for having higher HDL cholesterol levels.”

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood that is made by your body but you can also get through your diet. Cholesterol levels are used to predict risks of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the top causes of death in the United States, according to the CDC. There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, and the only way to measure it is to have it checked by a medical professional.

This latest research study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, confirmed that LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, remains a reliable predictor of heart health for both Black and white people. 

The study tracked 23,901 people. All of them were at least 45 years old, and 58% were white. They started the study without a heart disease diagnosis and were tracked for 10 years.

Show Sources


National Institutes of Health: “Study challenges ‘good’ cholesterol’s role in universally predicting heart disease risk.”

CDC: “Cholesterol.”

Journal of the American College of Cardiology: “Race-Dependent Association of High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels With Incident Coronary Artery Disease.”

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info