Yesterday, celebrity gossip website TMZ.com reported that legendary rap artist Heavy D died from a blood clot in the lung (Pulmonary embolus or PE) that was caused by Deep leg vein thrombosis. That terminology is incorrect since deep vein thrombosis can occur anywhere in the body, not just the legs. The correct term is Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT.
DVT has been in the news lately because several high profile figures have been diagnosed with it, or died recently, including Heavy D and reality TV star Tamar Braxton's husband, Vince Hebert, who survived his bout with DVT and PE.
Pulmonary embolism is usually fatal and involves a blood clot (thrombus) traveling from the legs or arms and into the lungs (PE). People at high risk for DVTs are those who live a sedentary lifestyle (couch potatoes), sit for long periods of time at cubicle desks or travel long distances on planes.
Pulmonary embolisms are often misdiagnosed as something else — such as pneumonia or cardiac arrest. There are law firms that base their entire practice around misdiagnosed pulmonary embolism cases.
Anyone can be diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. Other risk factors that predispose people to DVTs, include pregnancy, obesity, dehydration, crushing injuries, or people with strokes or heart conditions.