There is sometimes confusion among medical students that what’s the difference between the thrombolytic agents, fibrinolytic agents and the anticoagulants and which drugs or agents perform each of these actions.
Lets check out what are these blood thinners and what’s the difference between each blood thinner.
What are thrombolytic agents?
Thrombolytic agents break down the thrombus or clot itself.
This means, that when a thrombolytic agent encounters a clot, it starts its breakdown by directly acting on the clot, resulting in breakdown of thrombus.
Example includes Heparin (natural thrombolytic)
When heparin is administered into the blood vessel, for example, it clears and breaks down any clot that comes along its way, working as a thrombolytic agent.
Note: theoretically heparin is only anticoagulant, however it works as an indirect thrombolytic agent too.
What are fibrinolytic agents?
Fibrinolytic agents are the one which breakdown the fibrin inside the clot but not the thrombus itself.
This means that fibrinolytic drugs given for fibrinolytic therapy and fibrinolytic agents act on the fibrin only, the other contents of thrombus remain acting.
Example includes Plasminogen (natural fibrinolytic)
What are anticoagulant agents?
Anticoagulants work is before the clot is formed, i.e, they prevent the clot from getting formed in first place.
Once the thrombus is formed anticoagulants can’t break it down, instead, thrombolytic agents are used instead for the breakdown of the clot.
Thrombolytic vs Fibrinolytic vs Anticoagulant agents
Each of them has their own role in normal homeostasis as well as a therapeutic role in specific conditions. It’s important to understand the role of each of them so that the correct one can be used when needed without any confusion.
Hope it clarifies the concept of each of these. If you have any query related to thrombolytics, fibrinolytics or anticoagulants please let me know.