Snyder hospitalized overnight for blood clot treatment

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder remained hospitalized in Ann Arbor Thursday night with what was diagnosed as a blood clot in his leg, a condition that medical experts expect should be easily treated.

Snyder was attending events in the Ann Arbor area around mid-morning when he noticed swelling in his right leg and decided to have it examined, said spokeswoman Sara Wurfel.

Wurfel said doctors at Ann Arbor's St. Joesph Mercy Hospital determined the governor should be admitted as a precaution and for further care. He also had some pain in the leg, she said.

Wurfel said the clot is in the leg in which he ruptured his Achilles tendon while jogging in Florida during the holiday season. Snyder has been hobbled by the injury and used a stool to help him stand during his Jan. 20 State of the State address.

"He's in good spirits and good hands," Wurfel said. "His mobility may be limited right now, but he's still hard at work."

A medical expert said Snyder's condition commonly occurs among people with injuries because they are more likely to sit around more than usual, which increases the risk of forming a clot from the thickening of the blood in a vein.

"Most people do fine," said Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood, service chief of family medicine for the Henry Ford Health System's West Bloomfield Hospital, director of practice development and community health for the system's medical group.

Detroit Receiving Hospital emergency medical physician Daniel Helzer agreed the risk of the blood clot turning into a dangerous complication is "very, very small" when it is identified early.

"It is something that is easily treated over a few months, usually with blood thinners," said Helzer, who works for the Detroit Medical Center and is a voluntary faculty member at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Wurfel said Snyder would at least stay overnight while doctors determined how long he will remain in the hospital. His staff also canceled his scheduled activities and appearances through the weekend.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will take over for the governor before the Michigan Press Association gathering Friday in Grand Rapids, Snyder's office announced later Thursday.

Wurfel said Snyder's doctors have recommended a lighter workload for a while, but at this point the setback doesn't alter his plans to present his proposed state budget for 2015-16 next week.

"The governor is still planning on presenting his budget recommendation on Feb. 11, barring any unforeseen circumstances," Wurfel said.

Past Govs. John Engler and Jennifer Granholm usually had state treasurers present their budget recommendations to lawmakers, but Snyder likes to do it in person.

Patients usually stay hospitalized for two to three days, at most, for an uncomplicated case of a blood clot in the leg, Helzer said.

"As soon as they are able to get up, we get them moving," Henry Ford's Norwood said, adding that it helps to reduce the risk of recurrence. Doctors also may have the governor wear special stockings to force pressure on the leg for better blood flow, she said.

More than 600,000 people annually get a blood clot across the nation, Norwood said, and up to 30 percent may die if it leads to complications, such as the clot going to the heart or lungs.

Doctors would perform surgery to remove the clot if they fear it may move to the heart or lungs, or if it is causing a muscle or organ to die, she said.

During his State of the State address last month, Snyder rolled in through the back door of the House chamber with his injured leg on a scooter. He rested his leg on a stool throughout the speech.

The governor, who usually walks at a brisk pace, said then the injury had altered his outlook on mobility. "It really has given me a much greater perspective on the challenges someone with a disability faces," Snyder said.

Snyder said the injury happened shortly after a 30-minute run in Florida, on a family vacation.

The governor's hospitalization prompted Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall to launch a website where citizens can wish him a speedy recovery. At www.GetWellGovernor.com people can electronically sign a get-well card.