We were all shocked by the unexpected death of legendary rapper Heavy D (born Dwight Myers) last month. The 44-year old collapsed shorted after arriving home from a shopping trip. The singer had complained of shortness of breath just prior to his collapse.
We now know what caused his death. The LA Coroner’s office reports that Myers died of natural causes as a result of a pulmonary embolus. The embolus came from a blood clot in the singer’s leg, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis.
TMZ is reporting that Heavy D had recently taken a long plane flight from London to LA, where he had performed at the Michael Jackson memorial concert. This prolonged period of inactivity could contribute to the formation of blood clots in the legs.
A pulmonary embolism, or PE, is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. The blockage usually is due to a blood clot that traveled to the lung from a vein in the leg. A clot that forms in one part of the body and travels in the bloodstream to another part of the body is called an embolus.
PE is a serious condition that can cause:
If a blood clot is large, or if there are many clots, PE can cause death.
In most cases, PE is a complication of a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
In DVT, blood clots form in the deep veins of the body-most often in the legs. These clots can break free, travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, and block an artery.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs equally in men and women. Although risk increases with age, other factors can also increase risk, such as:
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is treated with medicines, procedures, and other therapies. The main goals of treating PE are to stop the blood clot from getting bigger and keep new clots from forming.
Treatment may include medicines to thin the blood and slow its ability to clot. If symptoms are life threatening, a doctor may use a medicine, such as TPA, to dissolve the clot more quickly. Rarely, physicians may use surgery or another procedure to remove the clot.
At least 100,000 cases of PE occur each year in the United States. PE is the third most common cause of death in hospitalized patients. If left untreated, about 30 percent of patients who have PE will die. Most of those who die do so within the first few hours of the event.
For more information about pulmonary embolism, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.