What Is a D-Dimer Test? Normal Range and Elevated Levels - GoodRx (2024)

Key takeaways:

  • A D-dimer test is a blood test that measures how your blood is clotting. An elevated D-dimer level suggests an increased risk of a blood clot.

  • There’s no set number for a “normal” D-dimer level. This is because different labs use different tests to measure it. And individual characteristics, like age, change what is normal for you.

  • Common conditions may elevate your D-dimer test, even in the absence of blood clots. So an elevated D-dimer does not mean you definitely have a blood clot. And a normal D-dimer does not mean you don’t.

What Is a D-Dimer Test? Normal Range and Elevated Levels - GoodRx (1)

In the U.S., blood clots affect up to 900,000 people each year and can happen to anyone. If you’re at risk for a blood clot, you may have heard of a D-dimer test. It’s a blood test that healthcare providers sometimes use to screen people for blood clot risk.

The D-dimer test can help diagnose a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). But the test can have some pitfalls. So we’ll explain what you need to know about this test and how to understand your results.

What is a D-dimer test?

A D-dimer test detects how much D-dimer is circulating in your blood. D-dimer is a substance that comes from the breakdown of blood clots in the body.

High D-dimer levels sometimes occur in conditions where blood clots are more likely to happen — such as pregnancy or cancer. People with blood clots in the arms or legs (DVT) or in the lungs (PE) can also have elevated levels.

But people with blood clots can still have a normal D-dimer level. And people with high D-dimer levels don’t necessarily have a clot. So a D-dimer test can’t diagnose a blood clot by itself. But it can help figure out if you need more testing for a blood clot. We’ll go into this in more detail below.

What Is a D-Dimer Test? Normal Range and Elevated Levels - GoodRx (2)

  • What a blood clot feels like: Blood clots can form anywhere in the body, and they can become emergencies without causing symptoms. Three people describe what a blood clot felt like for them.

  • What’s causing your leg pain: Learn how to tell the difference between leg cramps and a blood clot, and when to get your symptoms checked out.

  • Which symptoms to watch for: A blood clot in the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism) can be serious, especially if the clot is large. Learn more about symptoms that could indicate pulmonary embolism, and when to get help.

What is a normal D-dimer range?

The normal range for a D-dimer depends on two things:

  1. The specific test that is used

  2. Individual characteristics of the person who is tested

D-dimer tests aren’t standardized or all done the same way. This means they each have their own normal range. The results you get from your lab should tell you what is normal for your specific test.

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There are also factors that can change what is normal for you. For example, D-dimer levels naturally increase as you get older. So a higher D-dimer result may be normal in an older adult (over age 50). D-dimer levels also naturally increase in normal pregnancy, and the normal-range cutoffs increase from trimester to trimester.

What causes an elevated D-dimer level?

Some people with an elevated D-dimer level don’t have a blood clot. This may be because another medical condition is elevating the D-dimer level. Other conditions that can raise the D-dimer level include:

  • Older age

  • Pregnancy

  • Cancer

  • Recent surgery

  • Liver disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Infection

  • Chronic inflammation

It’s challenging to use the D-dimer test to diagnose a blood clot when another condition causes the D-dimer to be high.

Can COVID cause an elevated D-dimer level?

Yes, COVID-19 can elevate a D-dimer level and also increase the risk of blood clots. This risk applies mainly to people who are hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. People with COVID-19 who don’t need hospitalization can also get blood clots, but they’re likely at lower risk — especially if they don’t have other medical problems.

Healthcare teams can use D-dimer tests in people hospitalized with COVID-19 to identify those who may be at higher risk for blood clots. In some cases, they may prescribe heparin, a blood thinner, to prevent and treat blood clots.

D-dimer testing and blood thinners aren’t recommended routinely for people with COVID-19 who aren’t hospitalized. If you think you may have a blood clot after being diagnosed with COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider to see if you need additional testing.

Can you have an elevated D-dimer level but no clots?

Yes, you can have an elevated D-dimer level but no blood clots. This is why it’s important to consider whether another condition is causing the high D-dimer. On the other hand, it’s also possible to have a blood clot and a normal D-dimer level.

But the D-dimer test can be a helpful first step in the blood-clot workup.

What happens if your D-dimer level is high?

A high D-dimer level increases the likelihood that you have a blood clot. But it doesn’t tell you this for sure or where in the body it may be. A D-dimer test alone can’t diagnose a blood clot with certainty. More testing is needed.

Additional testing for blood clots uses imaging or a radiology test. If a provider suspects a blood clot in the arm or leg (DVT), they’ll run an ultrasound to look for the clot. To look for a blood clot in the lungs (PE), the preferred test is often a CT scan of the chest using intravenous (IV) contrast dye.

If more testing is needed to diagnose a blood clot, you may wonder why the D-dimer test is used at all. Here’s the main reason: The D-dimer test is faster and easier to do than radiology testing. And when you’re at low risk for a blood clot and your D-dimer test is normal, this can rule out a blood clot and spare you the time and expense of more testing. It also reduces radiation exposure that comes from a CT scan of the chest. This can be particularly important in certain groups of people, such as those who are pregnant.

But if your healthcare provider thinks there’s a good chance you have a blood clot — even if your D-dimer is normal — you’ll need to undergo more testing to know for sure.

How do you treat a high D-dimer level?

Whether a high D-dimer level needs treatment depends on the cause. If the cause of a high D-dimer level is age, pregnancy, or another medical condition, the D-dimer doesn’t need treatment.

But if the cause of a high D-dimer level is a blood clot, you may need treatment with an anticoagulant medication, or blood thinner.

The bottom line

Healthcare providers often use D-dimer tests in the diagnosis of blood clots. It can be hard to understand your D-dimer results because there are other medical conditions that can elevate the D-dimer test. Discussing your D-dimer results with your healthcare provider can help you understand what the result means and find out if you need more testing or treatment.

References

American Lung Association. (2020). CT scan.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Impact of blood clots on the United States.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). What is venous thromboembolism?.

Harper, P. L., et al. (2007). D-dimer concentration increases with age reducing the clinical value of the D-dimer assay in the elderly. Internal Medicine Journal.

Morse, M. (2004). Establishing a normal range for D-dimer levels through pregnancy to aid in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Moser, K. A. (2019). D-dimer: Common assay, challenges abound, caution advised. The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine.

National Blood Clot Alliance. (n.d.). How is DVT diagnosed?.

National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines. (2022). Antithrombotic therapy in patients with COVID-19.

National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines. (2022). Therapeutic management of nonhospitalized adults with COVID-19.

Van Beusekom, M. (2022). COVID patients may be at higher risk for blood clots for up to 6 months. Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy News.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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What Is a D-Dimer Test? Normal Range and Elevated Levels - GoodRx (2024)

FAQs

What Is a D-Dimer Test? Normal Range and Elevated Levels - GoodRx? ›

A normal D-dimer is considered less than 0.50. A positive D-dimer is 0.50 or greater. Since this is a screening test, a positive D-dimer is a positive screen. [4][5][6][7] There is not necessarily a critical level for a D-dimer.

What is considered an elevated D-dimer? ›

A typical range is 0-0.50 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of blood. D-dimer is a protein the body releases when blood clots break down. Its presence in the blood or urine may indicate that a person has developed a clot. D-dimer levels of 0.50 mg/L or higher may indicate blood clots somewhere in the body.

What level of D-dimer indicates pulmonary embolism? ›

Background. Retrospective analyses suggest that pulmonary embolism is ruled out by a d-dimer level of less than 1000 ng per milliliter in patients with a low clinical pretest probability (C-PTP) and by a d-dimer level of less than 500 ng per milliliter in patients with a moderate C-PTP.

What type of inflammation causes high D-dimers? ›

Of note, among the coagulation parameters, D-dimer level was significantly higher in patients with gut inflammation than those without gut inflammation (P < 0.001), while there was no significant difference in terms of FIB, PT, APTT, and TT between them (P > 0.05, respectively).

What autoimmune diseases cause high D-dimer? ›

Increases in plasma D-dimer levels have been reported in various autoimmune vasculitis conditions, including antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis39, cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa29, Takayasu's arteritis40, eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis41 and IgA vasculitis42.

What is a worrisome D-dimer? ›

What does a high D-dimer test result mean? If your results reveal that you have higher-than-normal levels of D-dimer in your blood, it may mean that you have a blood clotting condition. A D-dimer test can't determine the type of blood clotting condition you may have or where the blood clot(s) is in your body.

Can you have a high D-dimer and nothing be wrong? ›

Sometimes the D-dimer test can be positive in people without clotting problems. This can happen in: older people. during pregnancy.

Can anxiety cause elevated D-dimer? ›

Mood was assessed with the Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression (Ham-D) and Anxiety (Ham-A). Mental stress elicited a hypercoagulable state as evidenced by increases in TAT and D-dimer, and by a decrease in t-PA.

How to treat high D-dimer levels? ›

A positive d-dimer test requires further work-up, including imaging tests to diagnose the underlying cause. Treatment of a high d-dimer depends on the cause and can include anticoagulants, thrombolytics, and thrombectomy.

Is D-dimer of 900 high? ›

The D-dimer test is a blood test doctors can use to rule out a severe blood clot. A normal result would be less than 500 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and anything above that is considered a positive test.

What cancers cause elevated D-dimer? ›

High D-dimer levels in malignancy are likely to reflect the biology of the underlying tumour, with higher levels observed in breast, prostate and bowel cancers.

What are the five warning signs of a blood clot? ›

Symptoms of a blood clot include:
  • throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm.
  • sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood.

What heart disease causes high D-dimer? ›

High D- dimer levels occur in many diseases in which the coagulation system is activated, such as acute venous thromboembolism, ischemic heart disease, and cancer.

What are the symptoms of an elevated D-dimer? ›

Swelling, pain, warmth, and changes in skin color of your leg or arm. Sharp chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing up blood, or fast heartbeat. Bleeding gums, nausea and vomiting, seizures, severe stomach and muscle pain, and decreased urine.

What kind of trauma causes high D-dimer? ›

Patients with moderate and severe head trauma develop progressive disorders of the coagulation and fibrinolysis systems. D-dimer, a product of clot degradation by the fibrinolytic system, is markedly elevated with increased fibrinolysis [6].

Can arthritis cause positive D-dimer? ›

Several studies showed that D-dimer levels are increased in RA patients compared with healthy controls and patients with osteoarthritis (OA) [21–26].

When should I be worried about D-dimer? ›

If your results show higher than normal levels of D-dimer, it may be a sign of a clotting disorder. Additional tests will be needed to show where the blood clot is located or what type of clotting disorder you have. High D-dimer levels are not always caused by clotting disorders.

Is 700 D-dimer high? ›

The D-dimer test is a blood test doctors can use to rule out a severe blood clot. A normal result would be less than 500 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and anything above that is considered a positive test.

What is the cut off for D-dimer? ›

D-dimer measurement is a very important step in VTE diagnosis, as it allows clinicians to rule out the disease in around 30% of outpatients with suspected DVT or PE. However, the test is less useful in elderly patients (as D-dimer tests at a cutoff of 500 ng/mL are rarely truly negative).

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