WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's blood clot formed in her head, her doctors said Monday, a potentially serious condition from which they nonetheless stressed they expect her to fully recover.
Ms. Clinton, 65, was hospitalized Sunday at a New York City hospital for the blood clot -- in a vein between the brain and the skull and behind her right ear -- and doctors said Monday that it did not result in a stroke or neurological damage. They said they were treating her with blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot.
"She will be released once the medication dose has been established," according to the statement from two doctors, Lisa Bardack and Gigi El-Bayoumi. Clots such as the one Ms. Clinton has can be serious, said doctors not involved in her care. David Langer, a brain surgeon and an associate professor at the North Shore-Hofstra-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, said that if this type of clot was untreated, it could cause blood to back up and could lead to a hemorrhage inside the brain.
Ms. Clinton's doctors struck an upbeat tone in their statement. "In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress, and we are confident she will make a full recovery," the statement said. "She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family and her staff."
The sudden turn in Ms. Clinton's condition appeared to take members of her staff by surprise. As recently as Sunday afternoon, they thought she was on the mend and ready to return to work this week.
"Yep, she's looking forward to getting back to the office this week and resuming her schedule [Wednesday]," Ms. Clinton's close aide, Philippe Reines, replied to an email inquiry.
But by 7:30 p.m. Sunday, all that had changed. Ms. Clinton, who had been home for more than two weeks nursing injuries suffered after she fainted and hit her head, suffering a concussion, had been admitted at New York-Presbyterian Hospital with an ominous diagnosis: a blood clot stemming from the concussion, Mr. Reines said.
Instantly, the woman who, before even announcing, has been widely viewed as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, someone who has spent the past four years keeping up a grueling schedule in which she racked up miles as the most-traveled secretary of state and visited 112 countries, was seeming uncharacteristically fragile.
Instead of talking about who might be her running mate, or how she had, even on Monday, again been named the most admired woman in the United States in a Gallup poll, the chatter in Washington shifted to talk about how, at the end of the day, she is a 65-year-old woman trying to recover after falling and hitting her head.
On Twitter, those sympathetic to Ms. Clinton lashed out at Republican critics who had accused her of faking her illness. BuzzFeed helpfully chronicled the top "eight people who thought Hillary Clinton was faking her concussion" because she didn't want to testify before Congress on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, including The New York Post, which called her concussion a "head fake," and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who called her illness "acute Benghazi allergy."
Ms. Clinton's friends say they have become increasingly concerned about her since she fell ill in mid-December from a stomach virus that left her severely dehydrated. She was vomiting constantly, friends said, and fell forward, hitting her head and blacking out. The result, one friend said, was a contusion on her eye and on her brain. She was forced to cancel a trip to the Middle East and Africa that had been planned for the next week.
On Dec. 13, doctors diagnosed her with a concussion, and she was kept to limited activity, according to a friend of Ms. Clinton's who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he didn't want to discuss her illness publicly.
Mr. Reines said that on Sunday, during a follow-up exam, doctors found a blood clot and hospitalized her.
Geoff Manley, vice chairman of Neurological Surgery the University of California, San Francisco, said patients with this condition generally need to be treated in an intensive care unit. The treatment usually begins with intravenous blood-thinning drugs, and scans to monitor the clot.
After a few days, patients can usually be moved out of intensive care to a regular hospital floor and be gradually switched from intravenous drugs to pills. After a few more days, they can usually go home. But the clot may take weeks or months to dissolve, and treatment will continue for even longer to prevent a recurrence.