Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot that forms deep in a vein, typically in your leg. If the DVT clot breaks free and travels through your bloodstream it creates a life-threatening blockage in your lungs known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). In the US someone dies from a PE every five minutes. Blood clots can happen to anyone, including a few notable celebrities whom you may recognize.
Notable Cases of Celebrities Who Died From Blood Clots
Dennis Farina, Actor & Retired Police Officer
Dennis Farina was best known for his roles in “Law & Order” and “Get Shorty.” After a long battle with lung cancer, Farina died from a blood clot in his lung at the age of 69. In fact patients with cancer have an increased risks of DVT and PE.
Jimmy Stewart, Actor & Air Force Brigadier General
Most Americans remember the iconic Jimmy Stewart thanks to his classic roles in movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “How the West was Won.” Stewart also had heart problems and battled DVT, ultimately suffering a pulmonary embolism at the age of 89. As we age and become less mobile the risks increase.
Michael Johns, Australian Singer
Many people fell in love with this Australian performer after seeing him on the seventh season of “American Idol” in 2008. Johns was only 35 when he died after a blood clot developed following a twisted ankle. A simple accident that limits ambulation or requires the use of a walking boot or cast increases the risk of DVT and PE.
Heavy D, Rapper & Producer
Dwight Errington Myers (Heavy D) had just performed a Michael Jackson tribute concert in London before collapsing in his home after his flight back to Los Angeles. The autopsy showed that the rapper developed a DVT, likely during his flight, that traveled to his lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism. The dangers of DVT and PE associated with long flights, train rides or auto/bus trips is well known and in most cases preventable.
Jerome Kersey, Athlete
Jerome Kersey was a Portland Trailblazers star for many years. He died at the age of 52 from a pulmonary embolism, which was caused by a blood clot in his left calf that broke free and traveled to his lungs. A muscle injury and long plane flights are both risk factors for elite athletes.
Causes of DVT
Genetic predisposition, inactivity, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, advanced age, heart problems, surgery and some medications can lead to the formation of life threatening blood clots. Most of the celebrities mentioned most ordinary folks who develop DVT and PE have at least one risk. Many patients have a family history of blood clots, a history of miscarriages or a personal history of DVT and PE. An overlooked factor in this group is an inherited tendency to develop blood clots known as a coagulopathy. Genetic testing can determine if you have a coagulopathy.
Compression hose are recommended when taking a long flight, recovering from surgery or to treat existing venous disease such as varicose veins. Frequently stretching can also help on long, non-stop flights or if you sit or stand for long periods of time for work. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercise regimen are advised for good circulatory health and overall health and wellness and can go a long way in preventing blood clots.
If you are at an increased risk additional preventive measures may be indicated so make to ask your doctor. Your physician and surgeon can assess your risks for DVT or PE with a simple questionnaire. Let us know if you want to take this DVT and PE risk questionnaire. If you have any symptoms of leg pain, unexplained swelling, chest pain or shortness of breath seek medical attention immediately and ask your provider…how do you know I do not have a DVT or PE. It may save your life!
Contact us at Vein Specialists of the South to learn more about DVT prevention and treatment of existing clots. We offer consultations and same day treatment plans to help you get on your way to achieve Better Veins For Life®.