Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking anticoagulants to treat a blood clot that developed after she suffered a concussion from a fall. The blood clot is in her head, but doctors say they expect her to make a full recovery.
News of Clinton’s blood clot raised obvious concerns for her health. Blood clots can be serious, especially if left untreated. Blood clots that form in the legs are called deep vein thrombosis. They can form when blood pools in the legs after periods of rest while recuperating. If blood clots in the legs break lose they can travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, which can be deadly.
Blood clots can also form in the brain after a head injury, which is what occurred with Clinton after she fainted. Clots in the brain can cause strokes and can also be deadly. Clinton’s blood clot is located in a vein between the brain and the skull, and has caused no neurological damage, doctors say. She is resting in the hospital and expected to make a full recovery.
Blood clots or conditions that increase the risk for blood clots are often treated with different types of blood thinners. Patients taking blood thinners should be aware that they are at an increased risk for major bleeding while taking the medication and seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of internal bleeding.
Warfarin is one of the most widely used anticoagulants for a variety of conditions, including for the prevention of strokes in patients with a heart rhythm abnormality known as atrial fibrillation. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pradaxa as the first alternative to warfarin for atrial fibrillation patients. In the first 14 months since the drug was introduced, it was associated with more than 900 gastrointestinal bleeds and 500 bleeding deaths.