Fibrinolysis is a normal body process that keeps naturally occurring
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.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Blood clots form on a protein called fibrin. The breakdown of fibrin (fibrinolysis) can increase under certain conditions, such as:
- Bacterial infections
- Intense exercise
Low blood sugar
- Not enough oxygen to tissues
In some situations, doctors may wish to speed up the rate of fibrinolysis. For example, when an abnormal clot forms in the blood vessels of the heart and results in a heart attack, human-made fibrinolytic substances (such as tPA, streptokinase, or Retavase) may be given to break up the clot.
Review Date: 02/05/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.