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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.


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 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.

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Blood clot formationBlood clots

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.