serena williams
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Serena Williams

The tennis great dominates the court. But her most fearsome foe may be blood clots. Williams was treated for one in her lungs, called a pulmonary embolism (PE), shortly after an emergency C-section in 2017. She was hospitalized with a previous PE in 2011. Doctors say a pair of foot surgeries and a long flight could have caused a clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in her leg, which moved up to her lungs and blocked blood flow.

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hillary clinton
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Hillary Clinton

In 2012, the then-U.S. secretary of state had a blood clot behind her right ear. Doctors found it during a routine brain scan while treating her for a concussion. The clot was in a vein between Clinton’s brain and skull. Dehydration may have played a role. Doctors put her on blood thinners, and she recovered fully. In 2014, Clinton told ABC News she had been diagnosed with a DVT before and probably would need blood thinners for life

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david bloom
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David Bloom

The NBC newsman died in 2003 at age 39 while covering the war in Iraq. A DVT traveled to his lungs and caused a pulmonary embolism that killed him. The clot could have been triggered by spending days and nights cramped inside of military tanks. Bloom also had a condition he was born with but didn’t know about: factor V Leiden. That’s a blood clotting disorder that ups your chances of DVT.

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garry shandling
4 / 15

Garry Shandling

The comic and star of TV’s The Larry Sanders Show died of a pulmonary embolism in 2016. Shandling complained he felt short of breath and had pain in his leg. He called 911 the next day but collapsed while on the line. He was 66.

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chris bosh
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Chris Bosh

Life-threatening blood clots in a lung forced the Miami Heat forward to cut his 2015 season short. Then a DVT did the same the next year. Clots are usually treated with blood-thinning drugs. That can make sports like basketball dangerous because injuries can cause bleeding problems. In 2017, the NBA ruled Bosh’s blood clots were career-ending, and the superstar left the league at age 33.

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john mccain
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John McCain

This U.S. senator and former presidential nominee had surgery to remove a blood clot over his left eye in July 2017. Days later, the Arizona Republican’s office revealed that the clot was linked to the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma. He died from the disease in August 2018.

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nick cannon
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Nick Cannon

The entertainer, who was married to Mariah Carey at the time, quit his radio show in 2012 after doctors found blood clots in his lungs and an enlarged heart. Cannon had been hospitalized a month earlier for kidney failure. He said he had lupus, an autoimmune disorder that affects African-Americans and Asian-Americans more often than whites. People with lupus may make protein antibodies that make blood more likely to clot.

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regis philbin
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Regis Philbin

The co-host of the Live! With Regis and Kelly talk show had surgery in 2010 to take a blood clot out of his calf. Philbin, then 78, said the clot made it hard for him to walk. He had hip replacement surgery in 2009 and triple bypass surgery in 2007. Both could have raised his chances of a DVT.

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heavy d
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Heavy D

The hip-hop musician collapsed outside of his home in 2011 and died at a Los Angeles hospital. Coroners said the 44-year-old rapper was killed by a DVT that probably started in his leg during a flight home from London. The clot traveled to his lungs and choked his blood flow. Being obese can make you several times more likely to get both DVT and PE. Heavy D, whose real name was Dwight Myers, weighed 344 pounds.

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brian vickers
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Brian Vickers

Blood clots have repeatedly sidelined his NASCAR career. Vickers couldn’t finish the 2010 season after a close call with a PE. An ankle injury led to a blood clot in his leg in 2013. He pulled out of a race in 2015 because of clots. Drivers can’t compete while on blood thinners because they might bleed out after an accident. Some people who’ve had blood clots get them again.  

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dennis farina
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Dennis Farina

This former Chicago cop played a detective on TV’s Law and Order. He died suddenly of a PE in 2013 at age 69. Farina’s cardiologist confirmed that when he died, the actor was being treated for a lung cancer that had returned.   

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jerome kersey
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Jerome Kersey

The popular retired Portland Trail Blazers player died at 52 after a blood clot broke loose from his left calf and plugged up a blood vessel in his lungs. Leg clots can form when people don’t move much. Kersey had had knee surgery just days earlier.

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zsa zsa gabor
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Zsa Zsa Gabor

The eight-times-married Hungarian-born actress had her hips replaced in 2010. She later had surgery to remove clots from her upper body. Then she was hospitalized for large clots in her legs. Gabor was injured in a 2002 car accident and had a stroke in 2005. The surgeries and being wheelchair-bound may have led to the blood clots.

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dick cheney
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Dick Cheney

The former vice president flew for 65 hours in 9 days during a visit to Asia and the Middle East in 2007. After the trip, he complained of mild pain in his leg. An ultrasound found a DVT in Cheney’s lower left leg. He was treated with blood thinners and recovered.

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nene leakes
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NeNe Leakes

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star in 2013 noticed pain on the upper right part of her body. She also felt short of breath and went to a hospital. The symptoms turned out to have come from blood clots that had lodged in her lungs. Doctors said Leakes’s frequent cross-country flights probably were a reason behind her health scare.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/16/2018 Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 16, 2018


  1. Edwin Martinez
  2. Gage Skidmore
  3. Getty Images
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  6.  BO via Wikimedia Commons
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CBS Sports: “ Serena Williams Reveals She Had Blood Clots, Burst C-section after Pregnancy Scare.”

The New York Times: “Williams Was Treated for Blood Clots in Lungs,”

“Clinton Out of Hospital for Clot,” “Zsa Zsa Gabor, Actress Famous for Her Glamour (and Her Marriages), Dies at 99.”

ABC News: “Hillary Clinton’s One-on-One With Diane Sawyer,” “Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain tumor after blood clot removed,” “Real Housewives' Star Nene Leakes Talks Moment of Reality With Health Scare.”

Clot Care Online Resources: “David Bloom's DVT Story: An Interview with Melanie Bloom.”  

Variety: “Garry Shandling Died From Blood Clot, Coroner Report Reveals.”

The Ringer: “Chris Bosh on His Relationship with the Miami Heat and the Heath Issues that Sidelined Him.”

The Washington Post: “Chris Bosh Ruled to Have Career-Ending Illness By NBA Doctor, Allowing Heat to Cut Him.”

National Blood Clot Alliance: “Athletes and Blood Clots.”

CNN: “Cindy McCain tweets her husband, John McCain, is 'doing fine,' ” “Sanjay Gupta: Three things I learned about Dick Cheney,” “NASCAR driver teaches a lesson of perseverance.”

ABC News: “Cannon Suffered Blood Clots in Lung, Enlarged Heart.”

PGA Tour: “Palmer Helps With Blood Clot Awareness.”

USA Today: “Arnold Palmer: 'The King' of golf dies at 87,” “NASCAR driver Brian Vickers has surgery to repair hole in heart,” “Actor Dennis Farina dies at 69.”

Huffington Post: “Dennis Farina Was Battling Lung Cancer At The Time of His Death.”

Fox News: “Regis Philbin to Undergo Surgery to Have Blood Clot Removed.”

Blood Clot Recovery Network: “Recovering with Brian Vickers.”

NBC Sports: “Catching up with Brian Vickers: Health is good, hopes to race again.”

The Today show: “Blood clot sends Zsa Zsa Gabor back to hospital.”

CBS News: “Zsa Zsa Gabor Hospitalized for Blood Clot.”

Reuters: “Cheney has blood clot in leg, returns to work.”

The Guardian: “Rapper Heavy D died from pulmonary embolism caused by DVT.”

People: “NeNe Leakes 'Thankful to be Alive' After Blood Clots Found on Lung.”

The American Journal of Medicine: “Obesity as a risk factor in venous thromboembolism.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Lupus.”

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 16, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.