What Is a Pulmonary Embolism? Dog the Bounty Hunter Reveals Life-Threatening Condition

Dog the Bounty Hunter has had a tough year since he faced the loss of his wife, Beth Chapman, in June. Her death left the reality TV star brokenhearted—a condition he says almost cost him his own life after he experienced a pulmonary embolism.

In an episode of The Dr. Oz Show scheduled to air Monday, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz made a house call to Dog's Colorado home, where they discussed the chest pain that led to the bounty hunter's diagnosis earlier this month.

"I all the time stick my foot in my mouth and I said after Beth left, 'I'm not afraid to die.' Ohhh, I was afraid to die," Dog, whose real name is Duane Chapman, recounted to Oz in a preview released Friday. "I said, 'Please let go of my heart, honey. Quit squeezing my heart,'" Chapman added, looking towards the sky.

The chest pain, squeezing sensation and anxiety Chapman experienced are all primary symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. It occurs when a blood clot forms somewhere in the body—a condition called deep vein thrombosis, which usually starts in the legs—and travels through the body, eventually getting stuck in a pulmonary artery.

Other symptoms include shortness of breath that gets worse with physical exertion and coughing up blood, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The pulmonary arteries connect the heart to the lungs. A pulmonary embolism prevents blood from reaching the lungs, which can be fatal.

"You're a ticking time bomb. You aren't going to be here with the heart the way it is right now," Oz told Chapman during his visit.

The difference between a pulmonary embolism and a heart attack, or "coronary thrombosis," is a matter of location. In a heart attack, the blood clot settles in one of the blood vessels within the heart, usually the right or left coronary artery. In a pulmonary embolism, it gets stuck closer to the lungs.

The Department of Health and Human Services offers concrete advice for preventing blood clots—a key factor in avoiding heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and even strokes. The department's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends moving regularly, including standing up every hour when seated for long periods, and maintaining an active lifestyle in general. Eating less salt, raising your legs above your heart occasionally, and wearing loose clothing can also help.

Chapman has cut back on smoking in order to avoid another embolism, Page Six reported. According to the American Heart Association: "Smoking raises the risk of unwanted blood clots and makes it more likely that platelets will stick together. Smoking also damages the lining of the blood vessels, which can cause clots to form."

Dog the Bounty Hunter
TV personality Duane Chapman aka Dog the Bounty Hunter visits "FOX & Friends" on August 28, 2019 in New York City. Chapman experienced a life-threatening pulmonary embolism less than three months after losing his wife to cancer. Bennett Raglin/Getty