Printer Friendly VersionEmail A FriendAdd ThisIncrease Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Primary or secondary fibrinolysis



Fibrinolysis is a normal body process that keeps naturally occurring blood clots 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.

Alternative Names



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.


Signs and tests

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

Calling your health care provider





Schafer AI. Hemorrhagic disorders: Disseminated intravascular coagulation, liver failure, and vitamin K deficiency. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 181.

Blood clot formation Blood clots
Read More

Review Date: 2/5/2010
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.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Home Page
Why Choose Us
Website Terms of Use

Visitor & Patient Info
Patient Portal
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us

Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking

Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access
Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000    |