Doctors at the hospital say that the clot was discovered following a checkup and it is probably owing to the concussion Clinton had suffered earlier this month. Doctors at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital said that they were treating her with anti-coagulants and investigating what could have caused the clot.
According to the doctors her medication was being monitored to find out the root cause of the problem, as blood clots in people her age, could be caused by a number of reasons.
Cam Patterson, a professor and chief of cardiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill said that that the most likely cause of her ill health is a blood clot in the leg that was probably the result of a combination of the concussion she suffered and the consequential bed-rest.
Although Patterson has no personal knowledge of the Secretary of State’s illness, he said that blood clots, medically known as deep vein thrombosis, can happen to people who are confined to bed as the flow of blood to their legs becomes restricted.
He clarified that when a person is mobile blood flows are not hindered, but when they are immobile the circulation in the lower parts of the body tends to slacken and blood “sits around in your legs longer than usual,” increasing the likelihood of clotting. Clotting is less likely to occur in people who are on the move, as it keeps the blood flowing swiftly, he said. Even though, blood clots are relatively easy to cure, they could be dangerous, he warned.
The danger, he explained, is not in the intense pain and swelling, but in the case of it severing from the blood vessel and traveling to the bloodstream and thence to the lungs, which could be fatal and cause death abruptly.
Beyond the pain and swelling caused by a blood clot, the real danger is that it can break off from the blood vessel and travel to the bloodstream to the lung, where it can cause sudden death, Patterson said.
However, he expected Clinton to make a full recovery and for such types of clots, doctors normally prescribe blood thinners like heparin and also a prolonged dosage of anti-clotting drugs such as Coumadin.
The good news, Patterson said, was that after she was cured, chances of the clot recurring were rare, but that was only if she did not become bedridden for a protracted period again.
He said that it was less worrying, since Clinton got the clot, owing to her extended stay in bed. If she was her normal active self and still developed the clot, that would have been serious cause for concern as it would mean that she has an unknown medical problem, which has to be found and remedied, he said.
He said that people who are confined to bed should stay alert to symptoms like swelling, redness and pain – they could herald blood clots. He said that people should learn from Clinton’s illness and see how a seemingly small problem can escalate into a critical life-threatening problem.
He said that it all started when she became dehydrated owing to a gastrointestinal infection. This can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. She became weak and fell down and suffered a concussion. This resulted in her being bedridden for some time and it is very likely the blood clot happened because of that, he said.
It’s hard to imagine that something as plain as gastroenteritis could, through a series of progression, became so grave as to cause sudden death. Patterson advised people, even if they are invalid and in bed, to get some exercise daily and to have leg massages and ensure that their legs are exposed to some movements and not remain stationery for long periods of time.