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Serena Williams suffered a pulmonary embolism Monday, a representative for the tennis star has confirmed.

People magazine reports that the 29-year-old had been spotted frequently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles throughout the past several days.

Williams’ rep, Nicole Chabot, told People magazine that Williams underwent emergency treatment at Cedars-Sinai for a hematoma suffered as a result of treatment for a more critical situation.

Although the condition can be deadly if oxygen to the lungs is cut off, prompt treatment using blood thinners cuts the risk of death considerably.

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“This is probably related to a lot of air travel and injury to the leg,” Dr. William Lewis, chief of clinical cardiology in the Heart and Vascular Center at The MetroHealth System in Cleveland, told AOL Health. “When you’re flying or sitting for an extended period of time, you need to get up out of the seat every hour, move around and stay hydrated.”

Lewis says the future of Williams’ tennis career will depend on the size of the embolism. The larger the embolism, or clot in the lung, the bigger the potential impact on the athlete’s career.

“The highest risk of this problem is within the first hour, and then it starts to decline after 72 hours,” explains Lewis.

He says blood clots often occur in people who are inactive or in those who have suffered an injury that limits mobility. “She is an elite athlete,” says Lewis. “This condition is pretty rare for athletes.” According to Lewis, long-time air travel could lead to development of pulmonary embolism, especially if one is dehydrated.

Pulmonary embolism is a condition that occurs in the lungs when one or more arteries are blocked. In most cases, this condition is caused by blood clots that originate in other parts of the body, most commonly in the legs, and travel to the lungs where the mass blocks arteries.

Other substances such as fat from within the marrow of a broken bone, part of a tumor or air bubbles can also form blockages within the vessels in the lungs. Usually pulmonary embolism is caused by multiple clots. A solitary pulmonary embolism, which involves only one clot, is very rare.

The condition can occur in otherwise healthy people. Most commonly symptoms include sudden or unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, and a cough accompanied by blood spotting, although symptoms can vary from person to person.

Williams isn’t the first athlete to suffer an embolism. Last May, NASCAR driver Brian Vickers suffered blood clots in his lungs and left leg and missed the remainder of the season. He was treated with the blood thinner Coumadin and returned to the race track last month.

More tragically, NBC News reporter David Bloom died in Iraq in 2003 after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Bloom, the father of three daughters, had been “embedded” with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and many speculated that spending time in cramped quarters, as well as frequent flying, may have caused the clot that killed the veteran reporter.

AOL Health contacted Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, but media specialist Sandy Van said the hospital was unable to comment on Williams’ case.

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