Duane ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ Chapman, 66, is facing a serious health issue. Only weeks after losing his wife Beth, 51, to cancer, the bounty hunter was hospitalized on Sept. 14 for a “heart emergency,” leading to his diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. But what exactly is the condition, and what causes it? “A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in the large veins, usually in the legs, although sometimes in the arms. Then, it breaks off and travels into the blood vessels of the lungs,” Dr. Tanya Dutta, Director of Echocardiography at Westchester Medical Center explains to HollywoodLife. “As the blood vessels become smaller, the clot eventually becomes lodged and obstructs blood flow. Once blood flow is obstructed, delivery of oxygen to the body decreases.”
Duane’s friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz, immediately took action when he found out that the reality star was suffering from a pulmonary embolism. “You’re a ticking time bomb,” Dr. Oz warns Duane in a video clip from the September 30 episode of the Dr. Oz show. “You’re not going to be here with the heart the way it is right now.”
Duane’s condition could be life threatening, if not treated quickly, according to Dr. Dutta. “A large pulmonary embolism can be life threatening if it is not treated quickly. It can stop the flow of blood through the body’s circulatory system. When a blood clot blocks a large blood vessel in the lungs, the heart becomes injured from the strain of pushing blood through the system,” she continues — but notes that the condition is different than a heart attack. “During a heart attack, cholesterol plaque ruptures in a coronary artery, a blood vessel that supplies the heart, and obstructs blood flow causing heart muscle damage. If a pulmonary embolism is treated effectively [and quickly], usually heart muscle damage is reversible.”
Dr. Robert J. Bos, a NYC physician who specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary diseases, also notes that the condition is indeed “reversible” and is often caused by “not moving, poor health, and smoking” or “sometimes for no apparent reason at all.” Dr. Dutta adds that the condition can happen at any age, and can also be chalked up to hereditary conditions or cancer.
Luckily for Dog, plenty of treatment options are available. “Blood thinners treat this condition and many times the blood clot in the lung will dissolve without any significant residual disease. The goal of treatment is to both treat the current embolus and to prevent any future embolus,” but Dr. Dutta also adds that “the most important lifestyle choices to prevent this condition are to abstain from smoking and maintain an active lifestyle.” Duane “Dog” Chapman’s episode of Dr. Oz airs on Monday, September 30.