Although the location hasn’t been revealed, Secretary Clinton’s blood clot is probably in the leg(s) rather than her brain. This is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and is common in people who have been confined to bed. When a patient is bedridden for a prolonged time, blood flow from the legs back to the heart slows down, which can lead to blood clot formation in the leg(s).
When DVTs are large, they can break away and move to the heart, and from there they get pumped into the lungs. Called pulmonary embolism, this condition compromises the work of the lungs (getting oxygen into the blood) and can sometimes be fatal.
For that reason, patients with blood clots often receive blood thinners to reduce the risk of the clot growing. To prevent a blood clot from breaking loose and entering a lung, doctors sometimes insert a filter into the inferior vena cava (the large vein that carries from the lower half of the body into the heart).
Brain injuries can increase the risk of DVTs because the brain is the body’s richest source of thromboplastins, which promote blood clot formation. So DVTs are more commonly seen in patients with traumatic brain injury, dehydration and confinement to bed — all of which Secretary Clinton has undergone this past month. We hope for a speedy recovery.