Fibrinogen is an essential clotting factor that helps your body heal from injuries. Low levels can cause excessive bleeding and pregnancy complications. Keep reading to understand what can cause your levels to drop too low and what you can do to increase them.
Causes of Low Fibrinogen Levels
According to the World Federation of Hemophilia, low fibrinogen blood levels account for about 7% of bleeding disorders worldwide, which are more common in women than men .
Acquired hypofibrinogenemia, defined as fibrinogen deficiency developed later in life, is most often caused by excessive blood loss. This is because most of the body’s fibrinogen has been used up to stop the bleeding .
Urokinase is a trombolitic (“clot-busting“) drug that decreased blood fibrinogen levels by an average of 35% in a study of 204 patients with stroke after 24 hours .
A 2-week regime of anabolic steroids reduced blood fibrinogen levels by 22% in a clinical trial of 14 healthy adults .
People with low fibrinogen are recommended to avoid aspirin or other blood thinners that will further decrease their ability to form blood clots unless prescribed by a doctor .
On the other hand, doctors often recommend anticoagulant drugs (such as heparin, aspirin, or Lepirudin) as an add-on to fibrinogen replacement therapy to help reduce the likelihood of an internal blood clot .
Blunt trauma to the liver specifically impaired fibrinogen production in pigs, leading to a decline in fibrinogen levels .
Leukemia may reduce fibrinogen levels by promoting clot formation and fibrinogen degradation (surveys of 1,304 patients, 17 patients, and 379 patients). As a result, hypofibrinogenemia (fibrinogen deficiency) may serve as an early marker for leukemia diagnosis [20, 21, 22].
4) Genetic Disease
Congenital hypofibrinogenemia is characterized by low blood levels of fibrinogen (between 0.5 and 1.5 g/L) with prolonged clotting times .
Caused by either a dominant or recessive mutation, this condition is estimated to affect as many as one in 100 people. Many of these people present no symptoms, maintaining enough fibrinogen to clot minor injuries (survey of 100 patients; genomic database analysis including approximately 140,000 people) [24, 25, 26, 27].
Congenital afibrinogenemia is characterized by extremely low blood levels of fibrinogen, (less than 0.1 g/L). Clotting time is unable to be determined because the blood never clots .
It is a recessive disease, meaning that both parents must have the genetic mutation for their child to acquire the disorder, which affects approximately 10 people per million in the general population. Afflicted individuals are typically diagnosed as infants (survey of 155 participants; genomic database analysis including approximately 140,000 people) [23, 29, 25].
It is autosomally dominant, and likely more common than afibrinogenemia (extremely low blood fibrinogen) and hypofibrinogenemia (low blood fibrinogen) in the general population .
This disorder sometimes coexists with plaque build-up in the kidneys that eventually leads to kidney failure .
Fibrinogen Storage Disease
Health Risks of Low Fibrinogen
1) Excessive Bleeding and Slow Healing
The most common symptoms of low blood fibrinogen levels are prolonged bleeding and easy bruising, especially after traumatic injury or surgery .
People with very low blood levels of fibrinogen also likely to have spontaneous bleeding, especially around the gums and joints .
2) Pregnancy Complications
3) Harmful Blood Clots
Paradoxically, people with extremely low fibrinogen levels may actually be more susceptible to free-floating clots that block blood vessels. This may be because fibrinogen is not present to inhibit the formation of these internal clots [40, 41, 42, 43].
Most of the causal relationships between fibrinogen concentration and associated diseases remain unclear. More research is needed to make concrete conclusions about the effects of and effects on fibrinogen.
How to Increase Fibrinogen
1) Fibrinogen Replacement Therapy
Depending on the region, replacement therapy may come in the form of plasma (blood)-derived fibrinogen concentrate of cryoprecipitate (frozen plasma containing high concentrations of fibrinogen) [47, 44].
A survey of 1,854 people found that people with elevated blood levels of cholesterol and fatty acids also had high fibrinogen levels, indicating a diet that raises cholesterol may also increase fibrinogen .
Protein, in particular, may be necessary for healthy levels of fibrinogen. Protein-deficient animals have low fibrinogen compared to their properly-nourished counterparts .
A study of 16 individuals also found that fibrinogen increased by 20 to 40% directly after the participants drank a protein shake or balanced-meal shake, but not after drinking water .
However, giving your body the building blocks it needs to create fibrinogen may only help if your liver is healthy and if you don’t suffer from a genetic disease. If your ability to produce fibrinogen is compromised, you will likely need replacement therapy.
- Hidden Causes & Risks of High Fibrinogen + How to Lower It
- What Is Fibrinogen? Function, Test & Normal Levels
Irregular Fibrinogen Levels?
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When your fibrinogen is low, your body can’t create blood clots and heal injuries. Women with low levels are at risk of pregnancy complications.
Genetic disorders are a relatively common cause of low fibrinogen levels. In others, fibrinogen levels drop as a result of traumatic injuries and blood loss, liver disease, leukemia, or certain medications.
Your doctor will prescribe treatment based on the underlying cause. Some people require fibrinogen replacement therapy. Dietary changes may help if you don’t have a genetic disorder or serious illness.