Fibrin degradation products (FDPs) — also called fibrin split products — are small pieces of protein that stay in your blood when a blood clot dissolves inside your body. Doctors can test for the presence of these small protein fragments and therefore diagnose conditions that can negatively impact your health. D-dimer is a type of FDP that doctors check for.
Impact of Elevated FDP Levels on Your Health
Elevated FDP levels can be seen if you have blood clots, strokes, and heart disease. FDP is also found in disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) — where multiple clots form in your body and lead to blockages in your small blood vessels.
High levels of fibrinogen in your blood may also predict your chances of getting cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
High blood pressure in women can also be associated with elevated fibrinogen levels.
How Are Elevated FDP Levels Diagnosed?
Your doctor may require you to get a fibrin degradation test to check your FDP levels. The normal range of fibrin D-dimer is typically less than 500 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
If this test shows elevated FDP levels, you may have conditions like:
- Heart attack
- Cancers like leukemia
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Deep vein thrombosis — or DVT
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Some medications like barbiturates and heparin can also increase the level of fibrin split products in your bloodstream, which your doctor will take into account.
Treatment of Conditions That Can Cause High FDP Levels
When the levels of FDPs including D-dimers increase in your blood, your doctor will often need to treat the underlying condition or causes that are leading to the elevated FDP levels in the first place. This can help to avoid the related health risks and improve your prognosis — or your pathway toward recovery.
If you have DIC, your physician might suggest treatments like anticoagulant therapy which can prevent clotting, or the restoration of the anticoagulant passageway.
When other conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increase your FDP levels, there are other treatments to keep them under control. DVT is a condition where blood clots can form inside your body, especially in your lower body. The condition can be extremely dangerous to your health. Treatments to prevent DVT include blood thinners, compression stockings to prevent clots, and anticoagulants (medicines that prevent clotting).
Prevention of Conditions That Can Cause High FDP levels
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to avoid conditions that can cause elevated FDP levels.
Reduce or stop smoking. Smoking cigarettes is associated with increased FDP levels. The FDP level can remain elevated for years even after quitting smoking.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Moderating your alcohol consumption may reduce FDP levels. Even though a small quantity of red wine may be associated with lower FDP levels, more research is needed to see.
Make adjustments to your diet. Obesity is closely linked with higher levels of FDP in the blood. Losing weight may help prevent the conditions that can cause the FDP to be elevated, such as heart attacks, strokes or blood clots. One primary change you can make is to lose weight steadily and safely.
Eating too much food containing red meat and refined sugar — a very common characteristic of several Western diets — have been associated with raised FDP levels. So, switching to a diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables can increase the levels of vitamin B6 in your blood but reduce those of cholesterol and fatty acids.
A diet that’s richer in a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber can lower your risks of the conditions that can raise FDP levels. Exercise is also beneficial for this objective. Ultimately, losing weight and lowering your body fat percentage is associated with lower FDP levels.
Reduce stress levels. Stressful situations cause the release of the hormone, cortisol. Higher serum cortisol levels are linked with raised FDP levels.
Check if you're using the right contraception. The use of oral contraceptives may also be linked with higher levels of FDP. Women who regularly use birth control pills are more prone to have elevated FDP levels in their blood than those who don't. This effect is further magnified in women who take birth control pills and also smoke. If this describes you, consider changing to a different form of contraception and avoid smoking.