Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, hospitalized Sunday for a
blood clot in her head, is expected to make a full recovery, her doctors
Doctors say Clinton, 65, did not suffer a stroke or
neurological damage after falling and developing a concussion earlier
this month. She was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Clinton's physicians also revealed details about the location and type
of blood clot -- factors that affect the seriousness of her condition.
The clot is located in a vein in the space between the brain and the
skull behind her right ear, according to a statement from her doctors,
Lisa Bardack of Mount Kisco Medical Group in New York and Gigi
El-Bayoumi of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
doctors say they are treating her with blood thinners to help dissolve
the clot. They expect her to be released from the hospital after doctors
determine the appropriate dose, according to a statement.
Clinton "is making excellent progress and we are confident she will make
a full recovery," the doctors said in the statement. "She is in good
spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family, and her staff."
Clinton developed the concussion earlier this month after a fall, which
occurred when she became faint from dehydration brought about by a
Doctors say they found the clot, called a right
transverse sinus venous thrombosis, during a routine follow-up MRI, a
scan of the brain.
These kinds of clots are potentially deadly,
because they can cause a stroke, hemorrhage or brain swelling, says
Geoffrey Manley, a professor at the University of California, San
Francisco and chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital.
Manley has no personal knowledge of Clinton's case.
But he says this kind of clot forms in "a large draining vein behind
the ear, that helps to drain the blood from the brain." Clots block off
the outflow of blood from the brain, which can cause blood to back up in
The pressure of that blood can cause a leak in the vein, causing major bleeding in the skull, Manley says.
clots can cause headaches, dizziness or changes in consciousness, says
Keith Black, a professor and chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center in Los Angeles. The fact that the clot was found in a
"routine" exam -- rather than because it was causing symptoms -- is a
good sign, Black says. It suggests that her brain had already found a
way to divert blood flow through another vein. Clots that expand to
block additional veins -- leading to a buildup of blood -- can be very
"Mrs. Clinton is very lucky that this was found just on
a routine exam," Black says. "This could have been very serious if it
had not been recognized and if the clot had expanded."
Blood thinners can help to prevent the clot from getting any bigger, Manley says.
have to be careful about administering blood thinners, which can cause
bleeding. They typically perform an MRI first, to make sure there is no
evidence of bleeding or blood pooling in the skull, says Neil Martin,
chair of neurosurgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los
"With blood thinners, most of these patients do very well," Manley says. "I wouldn't anticipate any long-term complications."
These clots typically form within 24 hours of trauma to the head, Manley says, suggesting that it has been present for weeks.
While these clots aren't common, they are a known complication of head
injuries, so doctors typically watch out for them, Manley says. They are
more likely to develop if there is a fracture in that part of the
skull. Doctors typically put patients with these clots in intensive
care. After initial treatment with intravenous anticoagulants, which
block clot formation, doctors typically switch to oral medications.
"You want to rapidly thin the blood," Manley says. "It's also important
to maintain hydration, because dehydration can contribute to clot
Inactivity, such as Clinton's recent bedrest, also can contribute to blood clots.
isn't the first time Clinton has suffered a blood clot. In 1998, midway
through her husband's second term as president, Clinton was in New York
fundraising for the midterm elections when a swollen right foot led her
doctor to diagnose a clot in her knee requiring immediate treatment.
Clinton's case underscores the importance of being thoroughly evaluated
after any trauma to the head, such as a fall. Such check-ups are
especially important if patients have a history of blood clots or an
underlying medical issue that makes them more likely to develop clots.
Manley notes that actress Natasha Richardson died in 2009 from a
treatable injury after falling in a skiing accident. She refused medical
care because she felt well, seeking care only after she developed a
Blood clots such as Clinton's also can cause symptoms such as headaches, Manley says.
says surgeons have limited information about how these clots form and
progress, because there hasn't been enough research in the area. He's
hoping to help organize a large study with thousands of patients to
provide doctors with more guidance.
"This is a huge problem, and we have made zero progress in the course of my career," Manley says.