Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman was diagnosed with the condition just weeks after the death of his beloved wife, Beth — but how serious is it? Doctors explain Duane’s condition EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife.

Duane ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ Chapman, 66, is facing some serious health issues. Only weeks after losing his wife Beth, 51, to cancer, the bounty hunter was hospitalized on Sept. 14 for a “heart emergency,” leading to his diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism. But what exactly is the condition, and how does it start? “A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in the large veins, usually of the legs, although sometimes the arms, breaks off and travels into the blood vessels of the lungs,” Dr. Tanya Dutta, Director of Echocardiography at Westchester Medical Center explains to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “As the blood vessels become smaller, the clot eventually becomes lodged and obstructs blood flow. Once blood flow is obstructed, delivery of oxygen to the body decreases.”

Duane’s friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz, immediately took action when finding out about the reality star’s diagnosis. “You’re a ticking time bomb,” Dr. Oz says to Duane in a clip from his September 30 episode. “You’re not going to be here with the heart the way it is right now. And fear of death is normal. I’m surprised you don’t fear death when you’re chasing after convicts. But when you run away from a doctor, that means you’ve got to do your own doctoring.”

According to Dr. Dutta, Dr. Oz is right — and Duane’s condition could indeed be life threatening, especially if left untreated. “A large pulmonary embolism can be life threatening if it is not treated quickly. It can stop the flow of blood through the body’s circulatory system. When a blood clot blocks a large blood vessel in the lungs, the heart becomes injured from the strain of pushing blood through the system,” she continues — but notes that the condition is different than a heart attack. “During a heart attack, cholesterol plaque ruptures in a coronary artery, a blood vessel that supplies the heart, and obstructs blood flow causing heart muscle damage. If a pulmonary embolism is treated effectively, usually heart muscle damage is reversible.”

Dr. Robert J. Bos, who specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary diseases also notes that the condition is indeed “reversible” and is often caused by “not moving, poor health, and smoking” or “sometimes for no apparent reason at all.” Dr. Dutta also notes that the condition can happen at any age, and can also be chalked up to hereditary conditions, cancer or smoking.

Luckily for Dog, plenty of treatment options are available. “Blood thinners treat this condition and many times the blood clot in the lung will dissolve without any significant residual disease. The goal of treatment is to both treat the current embolus and to prevent any future embolus,” but she also adds, “the most important lifestyle choices for this condition are to abstain from smoking and maintain an active lifestyle.” Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman’s episode of Dr. Oz airs on Monday, September 30.

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