Background Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a target for cardiovascular prevention. Contemporary equations for LDL-C estimation have limited accuracy in certain scenarios (high triglycerides [TG], very low LDL-C). Objectives We derived a novel method for LDL-C estimation from the standard lipid profile using a machine learning (ML) approach utilizing random forests (the Weill Cornell model). We compared its correlation to direct LDL-C with the Friedewald and Martin-Hopkins equations for LDL-C estimation. Methods The study cohort comprised a convenience sample of standard lipid profile measurements (with the directly measured components of total cholesterol [TC], high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-C], and TG) as well as chemical-based direct LDL-C performed on the same day at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine (NYP-WCM). Subsequently, an ML algorithm was used to construct a model for LDL-C estimation. Results are reported on the held-out test set, with correlation coefficients and absolute residuals used to assess model performance. Results Between 2005 and 2019, there were 17,500 lipid profiles performed on 10,936 unique individuals (4,456 females; 40.8%) aged 1 to 103. Correlation coefficients between estimated and measured LDL-C values were 0.982 for the Weill Cornell model, compared to 0.950 for Friedewald and 0.962 for the Martin-Hopkins method. The Weill Cornell model was consistently better across subgroups stratified by LDL-C and TG values, including TG >500 and LDL-C <70. Conclusions An ML model was found to have a better correlation with direct LDL-C than either the Friedewald formula or Martin-Hopkins equation, including in the setting of elevated TG and very low LDL-C.
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