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Fibrinolysis - primary or secondary

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.

Alternative Names

Primary fibrinolysis; Secondary fibrinolysis

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. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 166.

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.

Review Date 2/6/2020

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. 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.