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Fibrinolysis - primary or secondary

Definition

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.

Alternative Names

Primary fibrinolysis; Secondary fibrinolysis

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 doctor 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

Schafer AI. Hemorrhagic disorders: Disseminated intravascular coagulation, liver failure, and vitamin K deficiency. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 178.


Review Date: 2/24/2014
Reviewed 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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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