Today show weatherman Al Roker shared an update on his health with his Instagram followers Friday morning. He posted a picture of a bouquet of flowers and wrote, “So many of you have been thoughtfully asking where I’ve been. Last week I was admitted to the hospital with a blood clot in my leg, which sent some clots to my lungs.”
Roker, 68, hasn’t appeared on the Today show in two weeks, People reports. He explained on Instagram that it took his care team some time to figure out exactly what was going on: “After some medical whack-a-mole, I am so fortunate to be getting terrific medical care and on the way to recovery,” he wrote.
Roker has a history of being vocal about his health: In 2020, he shared he’d been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, for which he underwent surgery. Earlier this year, he also talked about the 20th anniversary of his gastric bypass surgery on Instagram, writing: “I have setbacks and struggle every day, but I never forget how far I’ve come.” So it’s not surprising that he decided to be transparent about his absence from the show.
When a blood clot breaks loose and creates a sudden blockage in the lungs, it’s called a pulmonary embolism (PE), according to the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). This often happens the way Roker said it did for him: A clot that originally formed in another part of the body, usually in the leg, travels to the lungs through the bloodstream.
A PE can damage the lungs or other organs and can be life-threatening, particularly if multiple clots travel to the lungs or if the clot is especially large. While a PE can happen to anyone, certain people face a higher risk, including those who have been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, and lung disease, as well as people who recently had surgery. A broken hip or leg bone—or other injury or physical trauma—can also boost your risk of a PE, as can not moving for a long period of time (say, during a really long flight), pregnancy and childbirth, being older than 40, or having a higher weight, per the NLM.
Many people who develop a pulmonary embolism don’t have symptoms, but it’s possible to experience shortness of breath and chest pain or cough up blood. If you notice these symptoms and they’re not typical for you, you should see a doctor as soon as you can since a pulmonary embolism needs to be treated quickly. Depending on the severity of the clot and your health history, you may need a combination of medications or procedures to break up the clot and hopefully stop new ones from forming.
Roker thanked his followers for their support on Instagram, but didn’t say when Today fans can expect him back on the show, writing: “Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers and hope to see you soon.”