By now, everybody knows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been hospitalized with a blood clot, is being treated with anticoagulants, and will likely be released from New York Presbyterian Hospital in 48 hours, but we don't know much about the actual blood clot. Is it dangerous? Where is it? How did she get it? Are blood clots common?
Well, blood clots are fairly common and they can be dangerous, but the good news is they can be prevented, too. Clots form when blood pools and thickens, and once they're formed, they can travel through the body. There are different types of blood clots: A brain clot can occur after someone suffers a skull fracture (hmm, or a concussion?); a leg clot known as a deep vein thrombosis can occur after long periods of lying down (hmm, while recuperating from a concussion?); clots in blood vessels in the neck, lungs, and brain can occur as a result of clogged arteries or other conditions. The most dangerous type of blood clot?
Deadliest of all are blood clots which travel to the lungs or brain (where they can cause a stroke). But all blood clots are potentially risky -- something Clinton knows from experience. Back in 1998, she went to the doctor for a painfully swollen foot, figuring it was a side effect of near-constant travel -- but found out she had a deep vein thrombosis behind her right knee.
"That was scary because you have to treat it immediately -- you don't want to take the risk that it will break lose and travel to your brain, or your heart or your lungs. That was the most significant health scare I've ever had," she said.
So this isn't Clinton's first go-round with blood thinners, which can also be taken preventatively. Here are some other ways to prevent blood clots:
1. Don't sit or stand for more than an hour at a time.
2. Change position frequently while traveling.
3. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, stockings, and socks.
4. Elevate feet while sleeping if possible.
5. Eat less salt.
Get well soon, Hillary!
Have you ever had a blood clot?
Image via Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr