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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is that plaque?

My niece is a strict vegetarian - no animal products. She just had a miscarriage. When they were drawing her blood, they saw large white chunks floating in the blood.Do you know what this could be? Her doctor thinks it's plaque, but has no suggestions to remedy this. Do you have any idea what this could be and if it could be caused by her diet?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

I am not sure what this is, but it could be the fats in the blood we call lipids. If the cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high they can be seen in the blood when it is drawn up into glass tubes.

It is not likely to be "plaque." The definition of plaque is the crusty, cholesterol filled substance that builds up on the inside of arteries. Since the blood was almost certainly drawn from a vein it would not be possible for this to be plaque.

It would be an excellent step for your niece to have her cholesterol checked. Vegetarian diets can be healthy but are often very high in fat (many times saturated fats). Her cholesterol could be a genetic issue for her and she would want to be aware of this as well.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet