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Hospital Treats Quayle for Blood Clot Found in Lung

November 30, 1994|DAVID BROWN and DAN BALZ | THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dan Quayle is being treated for a blood clot discovered in his lung after he complained that he felt short of breath.

Quayle, 47, was admitted to Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis on Monday. Though few details of his treatment were given, a hospital spokesman said Quayle's physicians determined that he had "developed a blood clot that traveled to his lung."

The condition, known as pulmonary embolism, is occasionally fatal if the clot blocks a large fraction of the blood flow to the lungs. Death comes quickly in that case. People who survive the initial hours of a pulmonary embolism generally recover fully, unless a second clot occurs.

"He's doing great," Marilyn Quayle told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. The hospital listed his condition as stable.

Aides to Quayle said his hospitalization, expected to last about a week, would have no adverse impact on a final decision about running for President in 1996.

Pulmonary embolism is rare in healthy, relatively young people, such as the former vice president. The Associated Press reported that Quayle first went to the hospital Sunday and "walking pneumonia" was diagnosed. What, if any, new symptoms developed between that visit and his admission the next day could not be learned.

In the majority of cases, the clot forms outside the lungs and travels through the veins to the chambers of the right half of the heart. From there it is pumped out to the lungs, where it usually breaks apart and occludes many small blood vessels.

Symptoms vary greatly, but generally include shortness of breath and anxiety. Sometimes there is pain with deep breaths. The condition is diagnosed by giving an intravenous tracer or dye that, with the aid of imaging devices, delineates areas of the lungs that are not getting blood flow.

The standard treatment for pulmonary embolism is intravenous heparin, an anticoagulant. That keeps the clot from getting larger, and over time, the body dissolves it. Pulmonary embolism has many causes, and is sometimes the first symptom of very serious diseases, notably cancer.

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