MONDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was admitted late Sunday to a hospital in New York City after doctors discovered a blood clot linked to a concussion she suffered earlier this month, a State Department spokesman said.
Clinton, 65, has canceled most of her public events over the past few weeks because of the head injury and "is being treated with anticoagulants and is at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital so that they can monitor the medication over the next 48 hours," spokesman Phillippe Reines said in a statement, The New York Times reported.
The clot was discovered during a regular follow-up examination and Clinton's doctors "will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion," Reines said. "They will determine if any further action is required."
Doctors not involved in Clinton's care said blood thinners are typically used to dissolve clots, and patients may need to be on them for weeks or months.
Dr. David Langer is a brain surgeon and associate professor at Hofstra-North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, N.Y. He told the Times that clots most typically form in the leg or in a major vein in the head. Quick treatment can break up the clot, but if left untreated these obstructions can cause a brain hemorrhage, he said.
Reines did not disclose the exact location of the clot. Speaking to Bloomberg News, Dr. Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., said that it's not uncommon for clots to form in the legs in patients who are less mobile. According to Taylor, that might be the case for Clinton, who has been largely sedentary as she recovers from the concussion, and who spends long amounts of time sitting on long-distance air flights.
Clinton has a history of these legs clots, called deep vein thromboses. In 1998, as First Lady, doctors diagnosed a clot behind her right knee. In 2007, Clinton told the New York Daily News that the clot was "the most significant health scare I've ever had."
According to Taylor, the fact that Clinton is receiving blood thinners suggests that the clot is not within the brain.
"You wouldn't put a person on blood thinners if they had a head injury," such as a subdural hematoma, or a clot in the brain itself, he told Bloomberg. "You could have a bleed inside the brain. This is likely something completely different."
He said that people with a prior history of a deep vein thrombosis have a higher risk for subsequent clots. "Often flying is a particular risk -- people take certain measures [such as blood thinners]," Taylor said. "Getting up and moving around is the most important thing. She probably flies more than anyone else in the entire world."
According to Bloomberg, information on the State Department's website calculates that the Secretary of State has traveled 949,706 miles and visited 112 countries over 401 days -- about 2,084 hours or nearly 87 days spent airborne.
On Dec. 9, a day before Clinton was about to depart for a trip to North Africa, her staff announced that she had contracted a stomach virus and the trip was cancelled. On Dec. 15, Reines issued a statement saying that, "while suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion." On Dec. 18, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton was "on the mend," and by Dec. 28 Nuland added that Clinton would be returning to work the following week. But the discovery of the clot on Sunday seems to be another health setback.
There's more on blood clots at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.