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Fibrinolysis - primary or secondary

Primary fibrinolysis; Secondary fibrinolysis

Fibrinolysis is a normal body process. It prevents blood clots that occur naturally from growing and causing problems.

Primary fibrinolysis refers to the normal breakdown of clots.

Secondary fibrinolysis is the breakdown of blood clots due to a medical disorder, medicine, or other cause. This may cause severe bleeding.

Causes

Blood clots form on a protein called fibrin. The breakdown of fibrin (fibrinolysis) can be due to:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Cancer
  • Intense exercise
  • Low blood sugar
  • Not enough oxygen to tissues

Your health care provider may give you medicines to help blood clots break down more quickly. This may be done if a blood clot causes a heart attack.

References

Brummel-Ziedins K, Mann KG. Molecular basis of blood coagulation. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 126.

Schafer AI. Hemorrhagic disorders: Disseminated intravascular coagulation, liver failure, and vitamin K deficiency. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 175.

Weitz JI. Hemostasis, thrombosis, fibrinolysis, and cardiovascular disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 93.

  • Blood clot formation

    Blood clot formation - illustration

    Blood clotting normally occurs when there is damage to a blood vessel. Platelets immediately begin to adhere to the cut edges of the vessel and release chemicals to attract even more platelets. A platelet plug is formed, and the external bleeding stops. Next, small molecules, called clotting factors, cause strands of blood-borne materials, called fibrin, to stick together and seal the inside of the wound. Eventually, the cut blood vessel heals and the blood clot dissolves after a few days.

    Blood clot formation

    illustration

  • Blood clots

    Blood clots - illustration

    Blood clots (fibrin clots) are the clumps that result when blood coagulates.

    Blood clots

    illustration

    • Blood clot formation

      Blood clot formation - illustration

      Blood clotting normally occurs when there is damage to a blood vessel. Platelets immediately begin to adhere to the cut edges of the vessel and release chemicals to attract even more platelets. A platelet plug is formed, and the external bleeding stops. Next, small molecules, called clotting factors, cause strands of blood-borne materials, called fibrin, to stick together and seal the inside of the wound. Eventually, the cut blood vessel heals and the blood clot dissolves after a few days.

      Blood clot formation

      illustration

    • Blood clots

      Blood clots - illustration

      Blood clots (fibrin clots) are the clumps that result when blood coagulates.

      Blood clots

      illustration


     

    Review Date: 1/19/2018

    Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longstreet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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