December 31st, 2012
12:56 PM ET

Blood clots: 4 things you need to know

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was hospitalized Sunday for a blood clot that formed after her she fell and suffered a concussion a few weeks ago.

The clot was discovered during a follow-up exam related to the concussion, said Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of state. Clinton, 65, was expected to remain at New York Presbyterian Hospital for the next 48 hours for monitoring and treatment with anticoagulants - drugs that prevent clots from forming or prevent them from growing larger.

Reines said Clinton's clot was found in the vein located in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear. "It did not result in a stroke, or neurological damage. To help dissolve this clot, her medical team began treating the Secretary with blood thinners," said Clinton's doctors in a written statement.

Blood clots most often develop deep in leg veins, and symptoms are easily missed. The medical term for blood clots developing in the large veins of the leg or pelvis is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). An estimated 2 million Americans develop DVT each year.  

Here are four things you need to know about blood clots:

1. DVT is not life-threatening (most of the time)

Most cases of DVT are simply treated with a blood thinner that breaks up the clot and prevents it from migrating to different areas in the body. However, if left untreated, DVT can result in a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when the blood clot travels from the leg to the lungs. It accounts for nearly 200,000 deaths a year.

2. Travelers have the highest risk 

A large long-term study published in the journal PLoS One in 2007 found the more frequently a person travels, the higher their risk. This is because blood clots are generally caused by sluggish blood flow through the vein, usually from sitting in cramped positions for long periods of time. Experts say most cases of DVT develop on flights over four hours in length. Some studies show the cabin pressure of an airplane also plays a role. Most people think DVT strikes just older adults, but research shows that women taking birth control pills, people over 6 feet 1 inch tall, and adults under 30 are at increased risk.

3. There are warning signs

If your leg, ankle or foot is swelling, cramping or feel warm to the touch, that may be a sign of a DVT blood clot. Also, sudden onset of shortness of breath, anxiety or chest pain may be a warning of pulmonary embolism, or a blockage in a lung.

4. Keep the blood flowing

The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing a blood clot is to get up and walk around every 30 to 45 minutes to keep the blood flowing in your legs. If you are stuck at your desk at work, or on an airplane and can't get up, simply pumping your leg/foot or rotating your ankle can help to get the blood moving. Staying hydrated is also essential. Alcohol and anything with caffeine can add to dehydration and up your risk of developing a blood clot.

soundoff (2,080 Responses)
  1. Dudley


    You give freedom of speech a bad name.

    January 1, 2013 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rasheed


      People like Hillary gave democracy a bad name.

      January 1, 2013 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  2. Big Bird Johnson

    You forgot the 5th thing that people need to know about blood clots. They a great way to avoid responsibility and avoid telling the truth.

    January 1, 2013 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rasheed

    Does stress cause blood clots? I mean Hillary might have axed her own foot by self-imposed stress by unneccessarily picking fights with so many people in other countries she didn't like.

    January 1, 2013 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. atlanta john

    She obviously doesn't want to testify before Congress. If she does, it would hurt her chances of becoming the President 2016.

    January 1, 2013 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Holly

      So you are saying that she is faking this sickness? God where do people like you come from? Sure wish that the former Bush team had had a few blood clots that would have taken them out before they ruined the nation.

      January 2, 2013 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
  5. Jerri

    There sure are a lot of "haters" loose today! I had one attack me on Facebook because I'm an Obama supporter. Excuse me, but the election was almost two months ago. Leave Hillary Clinton alone and stop hating her!

    January 1, 2013 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LibertyLovingPatriot

      I hate you!

      May 3, 2014 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • blue wave

      OBAMIE was the Worst ( NON american) president this world ever SAW !!! and libaturds like you are working FULL time to try and KEEP ruining this country. you have the mentality of MAXINE ( the Knappy wigged) waters and that Zombie Pelosi...hillary SHOULD be in JAIL right now with ALL the other OBAMIE drones..... P.S. hope a ILLEGAL comes to play with you AND your sniveling family...like they did with mollie PUTZ

      August 25, 2018 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  6. Bre nda

    DVTs are serious....and sc3453 dont take estrogen ....i did when i had my hysterectomy....i had a HUGE blood clot within 6 weeks ....my upper thigh vein was fully occluded....complete blockage....ive had 3 dvts total and on warfarin for life ....it sucks

    January 2, 2013 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Holly

      Acording to Atlanta John – you were just faking.

      January 2, 2013 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      I ended up with a DVT due to taking oral contraceptives. Switched to an estrogen-free alternative (Depo Provera), but still on blood thinners to minimize the risk of a subsequent clot. As this is a way to supress the symptoms of severe endometriosis instead of for the purpose of contraception, I have limited options.

      Menopause can't come soon enough.

      January 10, 2013 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
  7. insi10

    I had a DVT. Cause was simple slowing of the circulation when I had both meniscus and rotator cuff surgery under the same anesthesia.

    The most common, not specifically discussed cause of DVTs: a**hole flight crews who want all passengers sitting all the time. I ALWAYS get up and walk around when flying. I've had to say "Do you know what a DVT is?" to a flight attendant now and then.

    January 2, 2013 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • yll

      just pump your legs, massage your calves, work those muscles. you can do that sitting down

      January 2, 2013 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      @yll: Not when you're a tall person and the passenger in front of you has reclined his/her seat.

      I make sure that I get up at least once during my flights if they're more than 2 hours. My health is too important not to do that.

      January 10, 2013 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
  8. R Strahs

    I will be 30 years old next month, and I think this Article needs to be take seriously by some of these readers. When I was 27 years old I started to have pain in my left calf (that lasted about a month). My calf felt hard like it was flexed almost 100% of the time, so I thought it was a cramp or a muscle problem. I saw a doctor and they gave me a cream but at no point did they even think clot. Also, at night the heat radiating out of it would actually cause both of my legs to sweat and I would wake up with my sheets drenched for about a week, and then it just stopped. I thought nothing of it, and moved on. Then a week later I went to a College football game and walking to the stadium I felt like I was having an asthma attack (I grew up with asthma but grew out of it by my 20's), but the weird thing was I was not weezing. I was gasping for air and felt like I was suffocating. I went to the Dr's office the next day, and my 02 level in my blood was about 82% compared to the normal 98-100% it should be. They called an ambulance and rushed me to the hospital. At 27, I had blood clots in my leg, and multiple of them (about 3) had broken loose, traveled through my heart and lodged in my lungs. The Doctor's told me I should have been dead. I work in IT and sit 8 hours a day, and they believe that this could have been enough to cause it. I had no clotting factors, and no risk factors. Now, I am paranoid any time I feel pain in my leg, but to those of you who don't take this article lightly, u might want to.

    January 2, 2013 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sates

      Hi R Strahs,

      I am under 30 and have blot clots. I would be interested in chatting about your recovery.


      February 27, 2013 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  9. Katie

    Please also be aware that deep-vein thrombosis (blood clots) can form in the arms as well, although these cases are rarer than blood clots forming in the legs. I had a blood clot in my right arm – discovered via ultrasound after I went to the ER for my arm becoming enlarged, turning a purplish-grey (especially after walking), and feeling pressurized and sore to the touch (as if I had recently gotten a shot). If you experience these symptoms, do not ignore them, as you should seek medical assistance ASAP to get the necessary treatment and prevent the clot from getting bigger or moving.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Judy

    APS can also be major contributor to clots....found out the hard way!

    January 2, 2013 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. carol

    The article does not mention the fact that the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis can significantly increase in women taking birth control pills like Yaz or yasmin, which contain drospirenone. While all birth control pills carry some risk of blot clots, the risk seems to be particularly high in women using pills like Yaz or yasmin. A recent FDA study showed that these pills are associated with a 77 percent increased risk of blood clots compared to other types of pills.


    January 2, 2013 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Terry

    Thanks for the kind words and prayers, I really appreciate them. yll that's very interesting what you said, maybe I assumed it was the clot in the leg because it was so big and we were told that the blood thinner would keep pieces from breaking off or something like that. The medical examiner did say the method of death would be consistent with a blood clot, there were no signs of trauma, she just looked liked she was sleeping, we chose not to do an autopsy. I never really considered that a new one had formed, all the more reason I should have pressed for them to take another look after a few months. I just think too many assumptions were made on the part of her physician from the very beginning. I have done a lot of second guessing since she passed away. But I also realize that medicine is not an exact science, I googled blot clot on the web and discovered it was possibly Lupus and suggested testing for that before her doctor did. I learned in hindsight to ask a lot of questions now and have decided that if I am not satisfied with the responses to consider getting a second opinion. We have to advocate for our children and I guess since she was a young adult I let my guard down.

    January 2, 2013 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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  14. Lena

    Been having a pain in my leg and have been doing PT because Dr. thinks I have pinched nerve in back. Today I found a lump or knot in my thigh behind my knee. Over the years I have had a blood clot in calf and lung. I have a rapid heart rate and A-Fib. My leg is not swolen or red but I am worried I may have a blood clot, I am 53 and obese. If I need to be checked can it wait until Mon.

    January 6, 2013 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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    January 26, 2013 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Charlotte

      Im 39 i have been having leg pain for about a month swelling sometimes painful to walk went to Doctor all is well should i be worried

      April 5, 2013 at 20:20 | Report abuse |

    I am trying to talk my son into going hospital. He had a clot start in the lower leg and because he doesn't have insurance he is wearing a stocking to keep it from moving. Today he has the clot in the upper middle thigh. I am very worried, but he is worried about money. He has a wife and two boys. He is the only income for the family. Give me some advice to tell him.

    May 18, 2013 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah Jane

      I don't know what your health system is like in the US. I'm in Australia and we have a lot of government funded medical help here. Regardless of whether your son has insurance or not, or how much it's going to cost him, he has a potentially life threatening problem. Fixing it is relatively easy, although I appreciate it may be costly. My understanding is that a clot in the thigh is much worse than one in the lower leg, as it is that much closer for it to travel towards the heart or lungs, blocking major arteries. It also starts in the calves, so the clot has already travelled up to the thigh. Treatment in my case involved an ultrasound, and then medication (one pill of Warfarin 5mg a day) for three months, as well as daily injections of Clexane (self administered into the stomach) to start with. I will also need a number of visits to my doctor and regular blood tests which will determine the strength of the medication. None of this requires hospitalisation. It is all very manageable and from the start of the first injection the blood clot is broken up. The Warfarin thins the blood to get it back to what it should be. A lot of people die from blood clots that can break up at any time and block major arteries. If he won't get treatment it will have to be up to you (and maybe his wife?) to get together and make it happen no matter what!!!

      August 27, 2013 at 07:30 | Report abuse |
    • vicky

      Does your son know he risking his life and if he dies then who will be there to care for his children i had the same problem and had no insurance but found out that when you get a hosptial bill and dont have the funds to pay it that you can file for finanial aide through the hospital finanial dept i did it and they paid my hosptial bill in full and it was a big bill due to being in for a week please get to hospital also doctor work with me in giving meds that i could afford when i went home i am now clot free and can enjoy my family

      September 2, 2015 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
  17. groovething

    Women are at a much higher risk of blood clots due to taking birth control pills. THEY DO CAUSE CLOTS_ STROKES AND HEART ATTACKS. I have had many blood clots in the leg and even had one at my doc's office- I told him about it and he blew me off. I ended up in the ER with blood clots in my leg. If you are a women- DEMAND THE BEST CARE- DO NOT LET THESE MALE DOCS SEND YOU HOME TO DIE>

    May 19, 2013 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Susan

    I had a fractured Hip andmnow I am haveing severe pain in the same leg and in my groin please tell me what's wrong .

    June 7, 2013 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Linda Shelman

    I slipped on one of those rubber things that goes in the bottom of the bathtub. I actually fell 3 different times and hit the same spot. It was sore for probably 3 months. Now it is to where I cannot hardly walk and is swollen. I told my doctor and he sent me for knee xrays and told me that I have arthritis. Wants me to go for therapy. I feel if it is a blood clot or something, that is not a good idea. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am 64 years old.

    July 4, 2013 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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  22. Sarah Jane

    To Charlotte above – yes go and get an ultrasound on your leg. I was just diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg, after 10 days or so of what felt like muscle pain. It felt like I'd been doing strenuous exercise and my muscles had seized up – worse in the morning as per normal muscle stiffness. There was no reason to explain why this had happened, except that I'd worn really high heels one day and wondered if that was the problem (if it was the stiffness would have gone away much more quickly). Anyway after a week the pain on one leg went but the other seemed to be getting worse if anything. I went to my doctor who sent me for an ultrasound and that's when the blood clot was found. Now I have to take injections into my stomach for a few days (or more I don't know) as well as taking Warfarin each night. Initially I'll be on these pills for three months, with regular blood tests to check what strength I should be on. So long story short, muscle stiffness may not seem like a big deal, but if there's no reason for it and it goes on over a week, go to a doctor. Don't get fobbed off – I was lucky my doctor referred me straightaway for an ultrasound. It was really just a precautionary measure as we both thought it was because I'd been wearing high heels. Lucky for me she did it!

    August 27, 2013 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. cj

    hello to all. i have had a blood clot in my right leg since april. ive been on bloodthiners everyday since ive left the ER. well take that back, im suppose to take everyday. Ive slacked for a couple of weeks now i would say. in the beginning i had to get my blood checked every week, then it went to everyother week. The last time i went i was given a month till i would have to check back in. well its time for me to check in an havent been taking my pills. ( not smart i know) But have noticed a few days or so.. that my right arm is hurting an it feels like a lump right before my elbow. its bigger on that side then the left one. im a lil nervous. is there any suggestions of wat i should do? besides obvious of not forgetting to take my pills?

    September 1, 2013 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Art

      Cycling in and out of your blood-thinning medication increases the chance of clotting if you are on Warfarin (generic Coumadin). To avoid clots, take your medication as prescribed.

      There are times when you must stop taking Warfarin (say for example, you need an operation – they don't want to cut if you cannot clot and, unless your need is life-threatening, will avoid surgery unless you are off anti-coagulants for 7 to 10 days – or until your INR is normal). But when you start taking it again, your doctors will uniformly recommend that you ramp back up to a therapeutic dose of oral Warfarin using Heparin until your INR rises to therapeutic levels. (Heparin is exceptionally easy to chart, it has a very predictable 12-hour life once injected and therefore, must be administered twice daily for about a week, or until your INR is normalized.)

      INR refers to the International Normalized Ratio of your blood's ability to clot. It is sometimes called PT/INR where PT stands for Prothrombin time (or, clotting time). Standard PT/INR is about 0.8 to 1.0. Most doctors seek a target INR of 2.5 (with an acceptable range between 2.0 and 3.0). Occasionally doctors will look to bring INR levels to 3.5.

      Here's the rub: At sub-therapeutic levels, Warfarin will actually increase the coagulation factor in your blood. Thus, deciding not to take your medication, or going-off an back-on the meds without supervised use of Heparin may actually cause more clots.

      It actually makes sense to take your medication as prescribed. But that is not to say that you should simply submit to all the doctors tell you to do. Talk to them about your reactions. There may be good reason to change your medications if you are suffering weird side-effects.

      November 19, 2013 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
  24. Kathy

    Thanks for your posting
    I'm 45 years old I just had a major blood clot in my left leg. From my stomach to my left ankle. Dr said my spine and an artery crush my vein that lead to my left leg. I'm healthy, I run, walk . All test came back normal! Crazy !! I spent a week in the hospital .

    December 3, 2013 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Name*jayde

    I got punched in the right side of my stomach just under my ribs yesterday a good few times I have got a bruise there now and it looks swollen and its really tender to touch, The top of my right leg is burning and looks abit swollen. Do you what can it be?

    January 10, 2014 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. susan

    I was diagnosed with a blood clot and not from ANY BLOOD TEST- utrasound over entire leg discovered it due to constant leg pain I was experiencing,. everything else was ruled out right away. I have a great doctor who does not waste any time caught early. The person who wrote this was obvioulsy suffering for a while and maybe the minor pain you thouth it was nothing and blew it off. was your leg itching before the paing that is a sign was well

    January 16, 2014 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sharon

    The medical sciences are constantly learning , I just returned from a hospital stay from a clot that moved from my knee to my lungs , I too am very blessed. I did go to ER and was sent home because my symptoms were not the typical. Only to return with more serious complications. Thankfully my physician was attentive. I did have symptoms about three weeks ago that were conclusive to having a blood clot in my leg . Due to the lack of knowledge in this area I was not really that alarmed because I had never had a blood clot , Or known anyone who has had one . Some of the responses above were very insightful. Thanks for your blog.

    February 15, 2014 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. cutie

    i was dignose with blood clot in my legs to my lungs sometimes my leg swell and dark marks diffreant areas on my legs i want to know i get so paronied every thing i feel i go to the er i am so tired of my self runing back and fort

    April 5, 2014 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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    My friend has a scab near his ankle that is discoloured (black sometimes) and it itches and he scratches it often and it looks bad
    He told us recently that his doctor said that clots are there in his veins caused by high stress levels and asked them to tone it down but he cudnt and the doc said at the rate he s going he has only 5 years left, is this possible ? He is 30 years old

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  45. Bill

    People quit advising others to start ANY kind of asprin, garlic, or any other self treatment/medication. Advise like that can lead to complications and even death! If you pay attention to the "low dose" Bayer commercials it says CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR FIRST and MAKE SURE YOUR DOCTOR KNOWS ALL MEDICATIONs, PRESCRIPTION OR NON THAT YOUR ARE TAKING! Its not a bad idea to let your pharmacy(s) know too that's how drug interactions are prevented. When you've went through twelve years of school and all the other required training to call yourself Dr. THEN AND ONLY THEN should you advise someone to take a medication! No matter how well intentioned you are advise like that is dangerous! Clots can have any number of causes...Factor V Leiden (like myself) Protein C deficiency just to name a couple. Do a Google search for "blood clot recovery network" don't use the stories as treatment advise but use the information to talk to your Dr. Its a great place for moral support too, trust me I know, I am a healthy 31 yr old who got his world turned upside down by 2 DVT and over 20 bilateral PE! Its some really scary stuff! Put me in the hospital for a week and a lifetime of thinners! Just remember ask your Dr first! You wouldn't try to rewire your house if you're not an electrician, so why would you try to play Dr on yourself?!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.