One of the world’s best athletes is sidelined by a major medical scare.
A spokesperson for Serena Williams says she suffered a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lung.
NewsChannel 5’s medical expert, Doctor David Soria says it’s rare in patients as young as 29-year-old Williams, and potentially deadly.
He explains, “It can be life threatening because it blocks some of the blood flow that is so necessary in the lung to distribute oxygen throughout the body."
Williams’ representative, Nicole Chabot, says she underwent treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Monday, telling People Magazine, "Doctors are continuing to monitor her situation closely to avoid additional complications."
The Palm Beach Gardens resident’s former coach, Rick Macci now coaches in suburban Boca Raton, running the Rick Macci Tennis Academy.
He says it’ll take more than a medical scare to slow Williams down.
Macci says, "I wouldn't push the retirement button yet cause I think the girls proved over and over when you count her up, here she is again and she shows up and wins not only big tournaments but grand slams."
Soria explains that Williams will likely spend a few days in the hospital, then be put on blood thinners.
He says that could impact her tennis career just in the short term.
Soria says,” Once she recovers from this fully she should be able resume her tennis career as she has been all along, however in the next 6-9 months while she's on the blood thinner, it is risky to get out there on the court. Every fall, every injury can have an increased risk of bleeding and complications from that."
On the next page: Information about Pulmonary Embolism From the Mayo Clinic:
By Mayo Clinic staff
Pulmonary embolism symptoms can vary greatly, depending on how much of your lung is involved, the size of the clot and your overall health — especially the presence or absence of underlying lung disease or heart disease.
Common signs and symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath. This symptom typically appears suddenly, and occurs whether you're active or at rest.
• Chest pain. You may feel like you're having a heart attack. The pain may become worse when you breathe deeply, cough, eat, bend or stoop. The pain will get worse with exertion but won't go away when you rest.
• Cough. The cough may produce bloody or blood-streaked sputum.
Other signs and symptoms that can occur with pulmonary embolism include:
• Leg swelling
• Clammy or bluish-colored skin
• Excessive sweating
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat
• Weak pulse
• Lightheadedness or fainting
When to see a doctor
Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or a cough that produces bloody sputum.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Pulmonary embolism occurs when a clump of material, most often a blood clot, gets wedged into an artery in your lungs. These blood clots most commonly originate in the deep veins of your legs, but they can also come from other parts of your body. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Occasionally, other substances can form blockages within the blood vessels inside your lungs.
• Fat from within the marrow of a broken bone
• Part of a tumor
• Air bubbles
It's rare to experience a solitary pulmonary embolism. In most cases, multiple clots are involved. The lung tissue served by each blocked artery is robbed of fuel and may die. This makes it more difficult for your lungs to provide oxygen to the rest of your body.
Because pulmonary embolism almost always occurs in conjunction with deep vein thrombosis, some doctors refer to the two conditions together as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
By Mayo Clinic staff
Although anyone can develop blood clots and subsequent pulmonary embolism, certain factors can increase your risk.
Blood clots are more likely to form in your legs during periods of inactivity, such as:
• Bed rest. Being confined to bed for an extended period after surgery, a heart attack, leg fracture or any serious illness makes you far more vulnerable to blood clots.
• Long journeys. Sitting in a cramped position during lengthy plane or car trips slows the current of blood flow, which contributes to the formation of clots in your legs.
Older people are at higher risk of developing clots. Factors include:
• Valve malfunction. Tiny valves within your veins keep your blood moving in the right direction. These valves tend to degrade with age. When they don't work properly, blood pools and sometimes forms clots.
• Dehydration. Older people are at higher risk of dehydration, which may thicken the blood and make clots more likely.
• Medical problems. Older people are also more likely to have medical problems that expose them to independent risk factors for clots — such as joint replacement surgery, cancer or heart disease.
You're at higher risk of experiencing future clots if you or any of your family members have had blood clots or pulmonary embolism in the past. This may be due to inherited disorders of clotting that can be measured in specialty labs.
Surgery is one of the leading causes of problem blood clots, especially joint replacements of the hip and knee. During the preparation of the bones for the artificial joints, tissue debris may enter the bloodstream and help cause a clot. Simply being immobile during any type of surgery can lead to the formation of clots. The risk increases with the length of time you are under general anesthesia.
• Heart disease. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease make clot formation more likely.
• Pregnancy. The weight of the baby pressing on veins in the pelvis can slow blood return from the legs. Clots are more likely to form when blood slows or pools.
• Cancer. Certain cancers — especially pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers — can increase levels of substances that help blood clot, and chemotherapy further increases the risk. Women with a history of breast cancer who are taking tamoxifen or raloxifene also are at higher risk of blood clots.
• Smoking. For reasons that aren't well understood, tobacco use predisposes some people to blood clot formation, especially when combined with other risk factors.
• Being overweight. Excess weight increases the risk of blood clots — particularly in women who smoke or have high blood pressure.
• Supplemental estrogen. The estrogen in birth control pills and in hormone replacement therapy can increase clotting factors in your blood, especially if you smoke or are overweight.
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