WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was found to have a blood clot in a vein that runs between her brain and her skull, her doctors said Monday.
Clinton has suffered no neurological damage or stroke, is in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery, Dr. Lisa Bardack of the Mt. Kisco Medical Group and Dr. Gigi El- Bayoumi of George Washington University said in the statement released by the State Department.
“In the course of a routine follow-up MRI on Sunday, the scan revealed that a right transverse sinus venous thrombosis had formed,” the doctors said, describing that as a clot in a vein found in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.
Clinton’s hospitalization in New York City on Sunday fueled rumors about her health, highlighting the issues raised by a public figure’s private health challenges. The secretary, named yesterday in a Gallup poll as the most admired woman in the United States, has been called a potential 2016 presidential candidate, heightening scrutiny of her condition.
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Her doctors said in the statement that they are working to dissolve the clot with blood thinners and that Clinton will be released from New York-Presbyterian Hospital once the proper medication dose has been established.
“In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress and we are confident she will make a full recovery,” Bardack and El-Bayoumi said. “She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family, and her staff.”
Clinton, 65, has been in the hospital for 48-hour observation of the blood clot, which officials said stemmed from a concussion she suffered while sick with a stomach virus.
The former U.S. senator and first lady, who is one of the world’s best-known figures, hasn’t been seen in public for more than three weeks as her aides have disclosed little about her illness. They said first that she had come down with a virus, then that she had fallen and suffered a concussion.
News organizations were left to theorize on air and in print, and writers of blogs filled the online vacuum with conjecture. As with chief executive officers such as the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, speculation about the health of a public figure has cascading implications for employees, stakeholders and the public.
President Obama has announced he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to succeed Clinton, who had already planned to step down as secretary of state within weeks. Still, her impact is global.
“Her situation has remarkable, complex implications for politics and business around the world, and the process of government in the United States,” said Scott Sobel, president of Media & Communications Strategies based in Washington, D.C. “Her immediate and long-term condition is really important for a number of stakeholders, even — and it’s a very, very long list — of other countries.”
An administration official who has been monitoring Clinton’s progress said that at no point has she been incapacitated.
The period when Clinton was least able to work was when she had the stomach virus, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing her health.
Throughout, Clinton has been keeping in regular touch with senior leadership at the State Department and the White House, according to the department.
The absence of detailed information on her condition until the latest report from Clinton’s physicians left an information vacuum.
Speculation filled media from the Daily Beast website to the tabloid National Enquirer, whose cover screamed “Hillary Clinton Brain Cancer Drama!” Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines called the Enquirer report “absolute nonsense.”
The administration official said Clinton’s media team has tried to be forthright, issuing seven statements in the three and a half weeks the secretary has been ill, every time there has been a shift in her condition.
The continued rumors might be driven, in part, by the intense public and media interest in Clinton and her husband, former President Clinton, the official said.
There are times when anything the Clintons do creates a rabid media environment, the official said.
In an interview Monday, crisis-management specialist Jamie Moss said Clinton’s team could have quelled rumors more effectively by having an attending physician issue a statement on her condition, as the State Department did late in the day.
“It’s also important to consider even though she’s a major public figure with major public obligations at the same time, she’s a private citizen and should be afforded the same rights of privacy of any citizen,” said Moss, founder and president of newsPRos, a national media relations and crisis-management firm, based in New York.
Sobel points to “everybody’s hunger to find out what’s going on, especially the media. They’ve got to fill that news hole.”
Crisis-management experts such as Sobel and Jim Moorhead, co-chairman of the crisis-management practice at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, said they see no problem in the way Clinton’s team has responded.
“My view is that Hillary Clinton may have a health crisis, but right now she doesn’t have a communications crisis,” Moorhead said before the latest statement.
“The balance for any public official in addressing health issues is to be a timely source of accurate information. So far, I think that has occurred.”
Clarence Jones, author of “Winning with the News Media: A Self-Defense Manual When You’re the Story,” said his advice to clients has always been “tell them everything because otherwise there will be a lot of speculation” that the situation is worse than it is.
“My attitude about any media relations is that you need to tell them everything because they will eventually find out, particularly if there’s a lot of media focus on a person or an event,” he said from Holmes Beach, Fla.