Tamar Braxton Leaves DWTS Due to Serious Health Condition

Viewers of Dancing with the Stars got a lot of drama on Monday night.

It started when it was announced that contestant Tamar Braxton was in the hospital with pneumonia. She hoped to be back to dance in the group dance with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. If she did not return in time, she would be eliminated from the competition. As it was, the judges had to use her and Val’s “less than perfect” dress rehearsal video as her dance for the week. With only a few minutes to go, Tamar returned to the set and danced the group dance with Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and avoided disqualification and elimination.

The next bit of drama occurred when the audience learned that both Alexa PenaVega, and her husband Carlos, were in the bottom two, and one was to be eliminated. Both cried, and Alexa sobbed when she was told she was the one going home.

Now we are learning that Tamar did not have pneumonia, but something potentially much more serious: pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in her lungs), and she must leave the show, as well as cancel a number of concert dates.

As Tamar said in an Instagram post:

“With a Heavy heart I regret to inform you that my season of #dwts has to come to an end along with the rest of my tour dates with @musicbykem. After yesterday’s final #dwts performance I went back to the hospital (after the doctors didn’t want me to leave in the first place) only to find out that I don’t have pneumonia but something way more serious and that is having several P.E.’s (blood clots in both sides of my lungs) As you all know I will be the first to always encourage anyone to push through any obstacle that comes along one’s way. But in this case, my health is my current obstacle.”

ABC has not commented about whether Tamar’s withdrawal will allow them to reinstate Alexa as a contestant. That drama remains to be seen…

Braxton is not the only contestant this season that’s been forced to withdraw from the competition due to health reasons. Kim Zolciak- Biermann withdrew in September after she said she suffered a blood clot that caused a “mini-stroke.” We later learned that she had a congenital heart condition, called Patent Foramen Ovale, as the cause of that blood clot. Zolchiak-Biermann underwent successful surgery to repair the condition.

What is a pulmonary embolus?

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.

pulm embolism snagged

PE is a serious condition that can cause:

  • Permanent damage to part of the lung from lack of blood flow to lung tissue
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood
  • Damage to other organs in the body from not getting enough oxygen

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.

Who is at risk for a pulmonary embolus?

Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs equally in men and women. Although risk increases with age, other factors can also increase risk, such as:

  • Recent surgery
  • Long periods of immobility (such as bed rest because of an illness, long plane flights)
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Previous stroke or heart attack

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.

(Source: NHLBI)

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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