On March 24, 2016, Garry Shandling died. Initial reports speculated a heart attack, but his personal physician refused to sign the death certificate, not agreeing with the coroner’s conclusion. An investigation was launched and the results were finally released December 27.
Shandling died because a blood clot lodged in his lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism. After traveling to Hawaii, he had developed DVT, deep vein thrombosis; blood clots had formed in his leg. That clot, or a piece of that clot, broke away and traveled to his lungs, blocking needed oxygen.
Pulmonary embolisms and DVT are both life-threatening. DVT can be caused by certain medical conditions, but can also occur when you don’t move for a period of time. This can happen during extended bedrest or, as in Shandling’s case, after traveling.
Watch for these DVT symptoms:
- leg swelling
- pain, cramping or soreness
DVT may also occur without symptoms. DVT may not happen immediately, or symptoms may not occur immediately. It could be several weeks after non-movement for DVT to appear.
When a clot (thrombus), or piece of clot, breaks away from the leg, it travels through the bloodstream and lodges in an artery of the lung, called a pulmonary embolism. The clot robs a portion of your lung of oxygen, killing that part of your lung. That makes it very difficult for the rest of your body to get oxygen. Usually, multiple clots wedge in several lung arteries.
Watch for these symptoms of a pulmonary embolism:
- sudden shortness of breath that worsens with exertion
- chest pain which worsens when you breathe, bend, stoop, eat or cough
- cough, especially with bloody show
- clammy or bluish skin, particularly around lips, nail beds, nose and mouth
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- dizziness or lightheadedness
A pulmonary embolism or DVT will not resolve without medication and often surgery. These are urgent, life-threatening conditions that need immediate treatment.
To find out how to prevent DVT or a pulmonary embolism, visit our Facebook page. We’ve been talking about DVT prevention during travel for the holidays.
If you suspect you have DVT, call Vascular Specialists at 815-824-4406 or your physician immediately. You must be evaluated, diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.