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Blood clot that killed Rapper Heavy D is a ‘silent killer’

December 27, 2011 |  3:51 pm

Rapper Heavy D died of silent killer

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Rapper Heavy D died last month of a blood clot to the lung that was likely formed during a long flight home from London, where he performed a tribute to Michael Jackson, according to the coroner's chief of operations.

Although some had speculated that his weight or pneumonia played a role in Heavy D's sudden death Nov. 8, the autopsy report released Tuesday revealed that he suffered from deep leg thrombosis that caused a pulmonary embolism.

Frequently described as the "silent killer," a pulmonary embolism is the medical term for a blood clot in the lung. A blockage typically forms in the legs. During long periods of inactivity, the clot can break off and travel to the lung, where it can become fatal if not treated immediately, said Dr. Matthew Butteri, who specializes in internal medicine at UC Irvine Medical Center.

PHOTOS: Heavy D | 1967-2011

"It's the equivalent of a heart attack," Butteri said. "Just like when you have a blockage in your coronary arteries and you have a heart attack. Well, this is an infarction in your lungs, so it's really a lung attack because the blood clot is preventing getting oxygen to critical lung tissue."

Butteri recommended in-flight exercises and short walks around the airplane to help avoid clots from forming.

Heavy D, who was born Dwight Arrington Myers, collapsed outside his Beverly Hills home Nov. 8 and later died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 44.

Craig Harvey, chief of the Los Angeles County coroner's office, said the blood clot was "most likely formed during an extended airplane ride."

[For the record, 12:40 p.m. Dec. 28: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to an  infarction as an infraction.]


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-- Angel Jennings

Photo: Rapper Heavy D, who died in November, performed at the BET Hip Hop Awards in October 2011. Credit: Chris McKay / Getty Images