Wow I had not heard about what happened to Serena Williams till this morning at our usual 0700am doubles match. This gal is extremely lucky to have not died from it.

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream (embolism). Usually this is due to embolism of a thrombus (blood clot) from the deep veins in the legs, a process termed venous thromboembolism. A small proportion is due to the embolization of air, fat or amniotic fluid. The obstruction of the blood flow through the lungs and the resultant pressure on the right ventricle of the heart leads to the symptoms and signs of PE. The risk of PE is increased in various situations, such as cancer and prolonged bed rest.[1]

This actually made me think about my own situation. When I went to the hospital originally back on 8/22/2003, I had been in the ER room for a while and they ran a D-Dimer blood test on me. This test turns out to have saved my life.

D-dimer is a fibrin degradation product, a small protein fragment present in the blood after a blood clot is degraded by fibrinolysis. It is so named because it contains two crosslinked D fragments of the fibrinogen protein.[1]

D-dimer concentration may be determined by a blood test to help diagnose thrombosis. Since its introduction in the 1990s, it has become an important test performed in patients suspected of thrombotic disorders. While a negative result practically rules out thrombosis, a positive result can indicate thrombosis but does not rule out other potential causes. Its main use, therefore, is to exclude thromboembolic disease where the probability is low. In addition, it is used in the diagnosis of the blood disorder disseminated intravascular coagulation.[1]

It turns out that my d-dimer test came back high for a possible pulmonary embolism and that’s when they sent me to the high speed CT scan and then the surgeon at the end of my bed telling me that I had a 50/50 chance of living as I had an aortic dissection.

In summary, if you have a loved on in the ER room, you might one to ask about if a d-dimer test has been run to see what the results came back and said, or if it was enough to warrant a CT Scan to get a closer idea!