The key difference between anticoagulants and fibrinolytics is that anticoagulants prevent the formation of blood clots by suppressing the synthesis or function of different clotting factors that are normally present in the blood while fibrinolytics are the drugs that are capable of stimulating the dissolution of a blood clot by activating the fibrinolytic pathway.
A blood clot is a clump of blood that is in the jell-like or semisolid state. It is a product of blood coagulation or blood clotting. Blood clotting is an essential process to stop excessive bleeding and loss of blood in a severe injury. But, in some instances, blood clots create fatal conditions such as heart attacks and strokes when they develop inside the blood vessels. Anticoagulants and fibrinolytics are two types of drugs that play major roles in preventing blood clot formation and dissolution of the formed blood clots, respectively.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Anticoagulants
3. What are Fibrinolytics
4. Similarities Between Anticoagulants and Fibrinolytics
5. Side by Side Comparison – Anticoagulants vs Fibrinolytics in Tabular Form
What are Anticoagulants?
Anticoagulant, as the name implies, is a substance that works against the coagulation process. In simple words, an anticoagulant is a substance that prevents blood coagulation. So, these substances stop the formation of blood clots by suppressing the synthesis or function of various clotting factors naturally present in the blood. In fact, anticoagulants are blood-thinning medicines prescribed by medical personal to patients that have a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks. It is because unnecessary blood clots can block blood vessels, and they can stop blood flow to vital organs such as the brain, lungs and heart, etc.
Anticoagulants should possess several characteristics as follows:
- should be soluble in the blood
- must keep blood in a fluid state
- should minimize the aggregation of platelets
- should not change the size of red blood cells
Warfarin is the most commonly used anticoagulant medicine. Rivaroxaban, dabigatran, apixaban and edoxaban are newer types of anticoagulant medicines. Heparin, Enoxaparin, Fondaparinux are other anticoagulants available today.
What are Fibrinolytics?
Once a blood clot is formed, it will not dissolve by its own. Thus, it can create a life-threatening situation. Fibrinolytics are the best solution in this situation. Fibrinolytics, also called thrombolytics, are drugs that are capable of dissolving blood clots. These agents carry out their job by activating the fibrinolytic pathway.
Fibrinolytic pathway exists naturally in our body to degrade clots that form in the bloodstream as wounds heal. Thus, fibrinolytics activate the fibrinolytic pathway by activating plasminogen. Plasminogen converts into plasmin by plasminogen activators. Plasmin is an active fibrin protease. Hence, it cleaves fibrin in the blood clot and causes the dissolution of the blood clot. Once blood clots dissolved, normal blood flow through blood vessels restores. Eminase, Retavase, Streptase, t-PA, TNKase and Abbokinase are several examples of fibrinolytic drugs.
What are the Similarities Between Anticoagulants and Fibrinolytics?
- Anticoagulants and fibrinolytics are two types of drugs.
- Both work against blood clots.
- They reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, etc.
What is the Difference Between Anticoagulants and Fibrinolytics?
Anticoagulants are blood-thinning drugs that prevent blood clot formation and keep blood in a fluid state. In contrast, fibrinolytics are drugs that dissolve already formed blood clots in the blood vessels. So, this is the key difference between anticoagulants and fibrinolytics. Moreover, anticoagulants suppress the synthesis and function of blood clotting factors while fibrinolytics activate natural fibrinolytic pathway occurring in our body. Therefore, in terms of their mechanism of action, this is the difference between anticoagulants and fibrinolytics.
Summary – Anticoagulants vs Fibrinolytics
In summary, the anticoagulants prevent blood clot formation while fibrinolytics dissolve already formed blood clots in blood vessels and improve blood flow. So, this is the key difference between anticoagulants and fibrinolytics. Both are types of drugs that reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, anticoagulants suppress the synthesis or function of clotting factors while fibrinolytics activate firbinolytic pathway to cleave fibrins.
1. Fedan, Jeffrey S. “Anticoagulant.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Available here.
2. “Thrombolysis: Definition, Types, Uses, Effects, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, Available here.
1. “Rivaroxaban2DCSD” By Fuse809 – Own work using MarvinSketch, Sublime Text & Inkscape (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Thrombosis formation” By ZYjacklin – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia