D-dimers reflect a breakdown product of fibrin. The current narrative review outlines how D-dimers can arise in normal individuals, as well as in patients suffering from a wide range of disease states. D-dimers in normal individuals without evident thrombosis can arise from background fibrinolytic activity in various tissues, including kidney, mammary and salivary glands, which ensures smooth flow of arising fluids where any blood contamination could be immediately lysed. In addition, healthy individuals can also regularly sustain minor injuries, often unbeknown to them, and wound healing follows clot formation in these situations. D-dimers can also arise in anxiety and following exercise, and are also markers of inflammation. Lung inflammation (triggered by microbes or foreign particles) is perhaps also particularly relevant, since the hemostasis system and fibrinolysis help to trap and remove such debris. Lung inflammation in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may contribute to D-dimer levels additive to thrombosis in patients with COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Indeed, severe COVID-19 can lead to multiple activation events, including inflammation, primary and secondary hemostasis, and fibrinolysis, all of which may contribute to cumulative D-dimer development. Finally, D-dimer testing has also found a role in the diagnosis and triaging of the so-called (COVID-19) vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia.
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