(CNN) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized Sunday after doctors discovered a blood clot during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month, her spokesman said. She is expected to remain at New York Presbyterian Hospital for the next 48 hours so doctors can monitor her condition and treat her with anticoagulants, said Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of state.
Clinton, 65, was suffering from a stomach virus earlier this month when she fainted because of dehydration, causing the concussion.
Blood clots “are clumps that occur when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid,” according to the National Institutes for Health.Clots can form inside veins or arteries or even the heart, the NIH says. “A blockage in the vein will usually cause fluid buildup and swelling,” the NIH website says. Among the possible threats: Sometimes, a “clot can break loose and travel from one location in the body to another.”Sometimes, it can “partly or completely block” blood flow in a blood vessel. If a clot blocks an artery, it may “prevent oxygen from reaching the tissues in that area,” the NIH says.
If not “treated promptly, it can lead to tissue damage or death.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, says the fact that Clinton’s clot is being treated with anticoagulants may offer a clue to the clot’s location.Anticoagulants are drugs that prevent clots from forming in the heart veins and arteries, according to the American Heart Association. Anticoagulants also prevent clots from growing larger.