U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in a New York hospital, after doctors discovered a blood clot while performing a follow-up exam for a concussion she suffered earlier this month.
At a news conference early Monday about the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman expressed his concern.
"We just want to say how much Secretary Clinton is in our prayers this morning and hope she recovers rapidly from this health problem," he said. "She's not only been a great secretary of state, she is a personal friend."
Clinton has been ill in recent weeks with a stomach virus that forced her to cancel travel plans and public appearances, including a congressional hearing on Benghazi. Two weeks ago, she fainted, fell and suffered a concussion.
This is not the first time Clinton has suffered from a blood clot.
During a 2007 interview with the New York Daily News, Clinton said she got a blood clot when she was first lady. She told the newspaper she experienced a “terrible pain” behind her right knee as she campaigned on behalf of New York’s Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.
Clinton said the 1998 incident was “the most significant health scare I have ever had.”
Since becoming the top U.S. diplomat of state, Clinton has been active on the world stage, visiting 112 countries and becoming the most traveled secretary of state in U.S. history.
Dr. James Ecklund, the chairman of Neuro Sciences at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, just outside of Washington, says it is not necessarily surprising that someone like Clinton would be susceptible to a blood clot.
"It's not a real normal thing in the general population but if you're inactive for a period of time and I would say with all of Mrs. Clinton's plane travel that certainly can be a contributing factor," said Dr. Ecklund.
But Ecklund says it would be wrong to draw any connection between the blood clot and Clinton's recent illness or her fall, which resulted in a concussion.
"There is really no relations between concussion and blood clot except in the case where concussion may make someone a little less mobile for a period of time," said Dr. Ecklund.
Still, Baltimore-based Dr. Jeffrey Quartner says there is reason for concern.
"When you cut yourself, for example, blood clots to stop you from hemorrhaging," he said. "But when it's inside the body it presents with particular problems and those problems are really related to where the blood clot is."
Quartner is medical director for the MedStar Heart Network and says quick treatment is the key.
"The most concerning aspect of a blood clot is that it can break off, form what's called an embolus, meaning a moving clot through the system, and end up in your lungs. That can cause significant problems with breathing that can potentially be life threatening," he said.
Quartner says in most cases where patients get timely medical treatment "the recovery is quite brisk," although depending on where the clot occurred there may be a need to continue with medication.
Officials expect Secretary of State Clinton to remain at the hospital through Tuesday.
Clinton plans to step down in January, after U.S. President Barack Obama is inaugurated for a second term.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.
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