Pulmonary Embolism: The Silent Killer

Azuka onye June 23, 2011

Pulmonary Embolism: The Silent KillerIn March, Serena Williams underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from one of the arteries in her lungs. She suffered from a pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition usually associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a condition in which clots form in the deep veins of the body, usually the lower extremities.

A pulmonary embolism can happen if a blood clot in the deep vein breaks off and travels to the main artery of the lung or one of its branches, blocking it.

Williams underwent surgery for a chronic foot problem and one of the major causes of a pulmonary embolism is surgery. Other causes include: bed rest, obesity, cancer, birth control pills, pregnancy, and fractures.

Williams was lucky.  Her doctors were able to identify the embolism just in time to dissolve the clot with an anticoagulant and saved her life.

Pulmonary Embolism: The Silent KillerThis was not the case for Ogbogu Anthony Okafor, brother to Nigerian-American superstar, Ngoli Okafor. On Sunday, April 24, Okafor’s life was tragically cut short by a pulmonary embolism.

This silent killer claims the lives of 60,000 people each year due to delayed or misdiagnosis. It is the second leading cause of sudden death. The condition could happen to otherwise healthy individuals and is often misdiagnosed because the signs and symptoms are similar to a heart attack or stroke.

It is important to recognize the severity of this condition and the fact that it can happen to anybody.


Listed below are some of the symptoms:

• Sudden shortness of breath
• Increased heart rate and palpitations
• Coughing up pink mucus
• Chest pain
• Feeling anxious
• Feeling light-headed or dizzy

If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if it is a sudden onset, contact your physician immediately.


Source: NYTimes.com, catchngo.wordpress.com
Photo Credit: ladybrillemag.com

Last Edited by: Updated: February 25, 2014


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