Heart Center Glossary
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Adenosine: a drug used to dilate coronary arteries.
Angina Pectoris: Chest discomfort usually resulting from decreased blood flow to the heart caused by plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.
Angiogram: (also known as "Heart Cath" or "Coronary Angiogram")- x-ray procedure done in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory to visualize the coronary arteries and study heart function.
Angioplasty: (also known as "PTCA")- procedure done in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory with small balloon inserted in a coronary artery and inflated against plaque to restore blood flow.
The largest and main artery of the body carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Aortoiliac Duplex Evaluation:
Colorflow imaging can contribute to an evaluation of the deep abdominal vessels by defining the functional lumen of a large abdominal aortic aneurysm, locating smaller peripheral vessels of the aorta, determining stenosis, distinguishing the functional and nonfunctional lumen or an aortic dissection, and assessing other less common lesions such as iatrogenic pseudoaneurysms of the iliac arteries and aorta. Indications are: pulsatile abdominal mass, abdominal bruit, bilateral leg pain or weakness, hypertension, renal failure, or abdominal, flank or back pain.
Any variation from the normal rhythm of the heartbeat.
Disease in which the arterial wall thickens and elasticity is lost.
A vessel that carries blood from the heart to various parts of the body.
Showing or causing no symptoms.
A drug often given to cardiac patient, to prevent formation of new blood clots, such as at the arterial site treated with angioplasty in order to keep the blood vessel open.
Condition in which fat is deposited in the innermost lining of the arterial walls.
A procedure done in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory in which a small turning blade is inserted into the coronary artery to remove plaque and restore blood flow.
The upper chambers of the heart, specifically the right atrium and left atrium. The atria collect blood as it comes into the heart and fill the lower chambers (also known as ventricles) with blood.
A condition in which the upper chamber of the heart (atria) are not contracting normally and causing irregular heart rhythm.
A condition in which the upper chambers (atria) are contracting faster than the lower chambers (ventricles), causing a rapid, regular heart rhythm
Atrio-ventricular node (or AV node):
A mass of conduction tissue in the right atrium. This is the only electrical connection between the atria and the ventricles.
One of the upper chambers in the heart.
Balloon catheter: A long, thin catheter that has a small inflatable balloon at the distal end. The balloon is expanded by injecting a mixture of saline and contrast medium. The inflated balloon catheter opens a blocked artery by pushing the plaque into the artery wall.
Beta Blockers: Beta blocking drugs are used to block the action of beta receptors on the nerve endings that affect heart rate and the strength of contraction of the heart. The goal of these drugs is to reduce oxygen demand by decreasing heart rate and the strength or force of contraction. This drug is used in the treatment of angina and hypertension, many times in combination with nitrates. Commonly used beta blockers include Inderal¨ , Lopressor¨ , and Tenormin¨ . Occasional side effects includes fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache, depression, and decreased sexual drive.
Blood Pressure: Pressure of the blood against the inner walls of the arteries (e.g. 120/70). The top number, or systolic blood pressure (SBP) reflects the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping. The bottom number or the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) represents the arterial pressure when the heart is resting.
Bradycardia: An abnormally slow heart beat-usually less than 60 beats per minute.
Bypass grafting: A surgical procedure in which a vein graft from another part of the body or a graft made out of synthetic material is attached to an artery above and below the site of obstruction for the purpose of providing a normal blood flow to the heart.
Calcification: The process by when tissues become hardened by deposits of calcium.
Calcium Channel Blockers: Calcium (Ca+) is required for contraction of muscle and regulation of blood vessels. These drugs are used to slow the transport of calcium across the muscle and blood vessel cell membranes. The results are a decrease in chest discomfort, blood pressure, and irregular heart beats for which these drugs are primarily used. Commonly used Ca+ channel blockers include: Cardizem¨ , Cardene¨, Verapamil¨, and Procardia¨ . Occasional side effects include fatigue, headache, palpitations or skipped beats, light-headedness, leg/ankle swelling, nausea.
Capillary The smallest blood vessels, only one cell in thickness, from which blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to tissue.
Cardiac Arrest: A condition when the heart beats so quickly (or stops completely), that no blood is pumped out to the body.
Cardiac Event: Significant change in cardiac status. This could include a heart attack, bypass, or valve surgery, worsening of angina, angioplasty, atherectomy, or any change requiring hospitalization.
Cardiac Rehabilitation: Outpatient Exercise Program (Phase II, III or IV) can begin shortly after patients are discharged from the hospital. It lasts about 12 weeks, although this varies with each person. The goal of Phase II is to provide exercise therapy, education and counseling which will help patients return to full level of activity.
Cardiogenic shock: Extreme life threatening heart failure.
Cardiolite: A radioactive isotope used in Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Medicine Cardiac Studies. Its action is similar to potassium. The healthy heart tissue will readily absorb Cardiolite and can be easily visualized by the nuclear medicine equipment.
Cardiologist: A physician skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.
Carotid Artery: Main artery running up each side of the lower part of the neck that supplies the brain with blood.
Carotid Duplex Scan: Carotid duplex scanning permits accurate localization of disease in the extracranial carotid, vertebral, and the subclavian arteries. A spectral analysis of the velocity waveforms permits accurate classification of disease in the internal carotid artery into four categories based on the extent of diameter reduction. The indications for carotid duplex are: stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), asymptomatic audible cervical bruit detected on physical examination, nonlaterizing, less specific symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and vertigo (insofar as they are associated with an overall loss of cerebral blood flow, either from extensive disease or because of disease in the vertebrobasilar system), screening of candidates for cardiac or vascular surgery, suspicion of a pulsatile mass in either the carotid or subclavian region.
Catheter: A hollow, flexible tube that can be inserted percutaneously (through the skin) into a vessel or body cavity to withdraw or inject fluids.
Catheterization: (also known as "Heart Cath")- a procedure in which a long thin tube designed for passage throughout the lumen of a blood vessel is passed into the chambers of the heart.
Chest pain: Can be caused by coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol: A lipid substance which is important in many essential body functions. It is found in foods of animal origin and is also manufactured in the body by the liver. Cholesterol levels in the blood increase with age. Blood levels above 200 Mg/dl are thought to contribute to accelerated atherogenesis (the formation of the plaque that blocks arteries) and for this reason, is considered to be a risk factor. Blood levels <180 mg/dl are most desirable.
Collateral Circulation: The development of additional arteries around an obstruction to increase blood flow to the area.
Congenital Heart Disease: Heart disease caused by defects present in the heart at birth. This can be inherited from parents or caused by infections or diseases of the mother incurred during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Congestive Heart Failure: A condition in which the heart is inefficient at pumping blood out to the body. Symptoms of "CHF" may include shortness of breath, excessive amounts of fluid in the body, especially the lungs.
Contrast Media: Radio-opaque dye or sometimes gas, put into an organ or a part of the body so that it will show clearly in an x-ray photograph.
Coronary Artery: An artery of the heart.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG): A procedure in which veins are removed from the legs and connected to the aorta and to a coronary artery. This can provide an additional supply of blood to ischemic heart muscle by bypassing the severely blocked coronary artery.
Coronary Artery Disease: (also known as "CAD')- narrowing of the coronary arteries due to atherosclerosis which results in decreased blood flow to the heart muscle.
Coronary Artery Spasm: A condition in which a coronary artery temporarily "pinches" closed, severely decreasing blood flow to the heart muscle which may result in a heart attack.
Coronary Artery Stenosis:: An atherosclerotic thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries which prevents blood reaching the heart muscles and leads to coronary artery disease.
Coronary Interventional Procedure: A non-surgical but invasive procedure performed by specially trained doctors. By using imaging devices to guide small catheters (tubes) through the body to treat an illness without having to open the site by cutting tissue.
Coronary thrombus: A blood clot that blocks a coronary artery, leading to a heart attack.
Defibrillator: A medical equipment utilized to give electric shocks to the heart in order to restore regular rhythm.
Diabetes: A condition characterized by the inability of tissue to utilize sugar despite the availability of insulin. The disease results in generalized metabolic disorder that is associated with severe cardiovascular, renal and nervous system complications.
Distal: Remote, farther from any point of reference
Diuretic: Medication that helps to remove excess water from the body via urine. Frequently, diuretics are used in the treatment of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure (CHF). Lasix is the most common diuretic. Some diuretics tend to remove potassium (K+) from the body. Potassium (K+) is necessary for normal body functioning. It is not unusual to be advised to eat foods high in Potassium (K+) (such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, bananas, apricots, or dates), or to be prescribed a potassium supplement. Some common side effects include dizziness, light-headedness (especially when changing positions).
Dobutamine: A drug used to increase the heart rate and increase the force of contraction.
Drug Eluting Stent: A revolutionary new method for physicians to help in the treatment of coronary artery disease, by slowly releasing a drug to limit the over-growth of normal tissue as the healing process occurs following coronary stent implantation.
Duplex ultrasound: An echographic method, based on the medical use of ultrasound that simultaneously visualizes the anatomy of a blood vessel and the characteristics of blood flow inside the same vessel. This procedure could help diagnosis in blood flow restriction.
EBT (Electron Beam Tomography): Is a type of scanner, different from the CT scan.
Retention of excessive amounts of fluid in body tissues, often "seen" as swollen legs, feet, and hands.
Echocardiogram (echo): A test that uses sound waves to view the heart. An echo is especially useful to look at the heart, valves, chambers, and myocardium as well as the function of each.
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): A recording of the electrical activities of the heart. These electrical activities stimulate the heart, causing the heart to beat.
Electrophysiology: A field focusing on the electricity of the heart and its functionality. Specialists in the field will help in the diagnosis and treatment as well.
Embolus: A clot or other matter which travels through the bloodstream and lodges in a small blood vessel, causing an obstruction to the circulation.
Enzymes: Proteins which make specific metabolic actions occur.
Fat: One type of lipid. Serves as an important source of energy and has many important physiological functions, such as padding for the organs and insulation against cold.
Fibrosis: The formation of fibrous (scar) tissue.
Graft: a synthetic vessel, used to replace or bypass blocked or damaged vessels. It is also used for all transplant organs.
Heart Attack: See Myocardial Infarction
Heart Blocks: Conduction disorder of the heart, usually resulting in slow heart rate.
High Density Lipoproteins (HDL): Desirable in high levels. They are thought to remove cholesterol deposited in the cells and carry it away. It is known that HDL levels are raised by exercise and weight loss. There are no foods that are known to raise HDL levels in humans. Low HDL levels (<35 mg/dl) are associated with increased risk for CAD. A level >60 mg/dl is considered protective against CAD.
Hypertension: High blood pressure- generally measured as SBP > 160; DBP >90 at rest and usually can be treated with medication.
Infarct/Infarction: Localized area of tissue that is dying or dead having been deprived of blood supply.
Injury: A state of severe oxygen deprivation which may cause tissue death if not alleviated.
Insulin: A hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. It helps the body use or store the blood sugar (also known as glucose) from food.
Intermittent claudication: A symptom of arterial disease in the legs characterized by pain when walking or exercising and is relieved by rest.
Interventional Cardiology: Blood vessels around the heart are treated using a balloon catheter and often a stent, which is inserted into the cardiovascular system via an artery most often using the groin as an entry point. The interventional cardiologist uses x-rays and other imaging devices to guide thin catheters and other small tools through the body to the heart to treat diseased arteries of the heart without surgery.
Interventional Radiology: The use of x-ray and other imaging techniques to "see" inside the body and diagnose and treat Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD).
Ischemic: The state in which a cell or tissue has an insufficient supply of oxygen.
Invasive Procedure: it is a surgical test procedure.
Lesion: An area of injured or altered tissue. Sometimes atherosclerotic plaques are referred to as "lesions".
Lipid: A group of fats or fat like substances, characterized by not being mixable with water. Includes both fat (saturated, unsaturated, etc.) and cholesterol'
Lipid Profile: (also known as "Cardiac Risk Panel") - The definitive test for blood lipids. Gives values for total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Must be done after 10-12 hour fast, abstinence from alcohol for at least 48 hours, and 6-8 weeks after illness or surgery as these things can greatly affect the results.
Lipoproteins: The carriers of lipids (primarily cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood. Because fat and water do not mix, the body combines protein plus lipid so that the lipid substance can be moved in blood (which is mostly water).
Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL): Carry a large amount of cholesterol, which they deposit in arterial walls. This type of cholesterol is a risk factor for developing atherosclerotic plaques in artery walls. Desirable blood levels are <130 mg/dl. Individuals with documented CAD should attempt to reduce LDL levels to 100 mg/dl or less.
Lower Extremity Arterial Duplex Scan: Arterial duplex scanning is to determine the location and the extent of arterial occlusive lesions without angiography, permitting the physician to discuss potential interventions with the patient. The indications are: claudication, femoral and/or popliteal bruit, nonhealing ulcers of the toes, feet and heal, diabetes, renal failure.
Lumen: The space within an artery or vein through which blood flow.
Media: The middle, muscular layer of the arterial wall.
Mesenteric Vessels: Duplex scanning of the mesenteric vessels identifies hemodynamically significant occlusive lesions of the mesenteric arteries; correlates gastrointestinal symptoms with presence of mesenteric occlusive disease and/or intestinal ischemia. Indications are abdominal pain and cramping associated with eating, diarrhea, significant unexplained weight loss, abdominal bruits, unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, postoperative evaluation of vascular reconstruction.
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS): A procedure carried out by a surgeon through a small incision using specialized equipment and endoscopic , or other visualization techniques not requiring direct access. In cardiology, this refers to procedures that do not require large chest incisions or opening of the sternum.
Monounsaturated fat: Includes olive and canola oil. The most recommended type of fat for a healthy diet.
Myocardium: The muscular tissue of the heart "the pump.
(also known as "Heart Attack" or "MI")- refers to localized death of part of the heart muscle which occurs when deprived of blood supply to the area. Atherosclerotic plaques is the most common cause of an "MI".
;Oxygen deprivation of the heart muscle caused by a blockage in the blood vessels serving a particular region of the heart.
Necrosis: Death of tissue which later forms a strong scar.
Nitinol: A nickel-titanium alloy, used in some stent manufacturing.
Nitrates: These drugs are used to dilate or widen the coronary arteries to increase blood flow to the heart muscle. This helps to relieve the discomfort of angina (chest pain) and lower blood pressure. Common medications include: sublingual (under your tongue) nitroglycerin, Isordil, Nitrodur patches. Occasional side effects include headache, flushing of face, dizziness, and rapid heart rate.
Nitroglycerin: A widely used vasodilator (this will cause dilatation and relaxation of the blood vessels)-usually used for treatment of angina pectoris.
Non-Invasive Procedure: A clinical non-surgical diagnostic test. Tests included in that category are electrocardiography (computerized), echocardiography with color Doppler, stress test (computerized), and peripheral vascular.
Nuclear Medicine Studies: Nuclear medicine is a field that uses radioactive isotopes. It is not x-ray. The indications for a Nuclear Medicine Study can range from a normal treadmill test or abnormal treadmill without symptoms, a false positive treadmill, to a borderline treadmill result. Cardiolite® and thallium are the isotopes which are used in nuclear medicine cardiac studies. A healthy heart tissue will readily absorb Cardiolite and it can be visualized easily by the nuclear medicine equipment.
Pacemaker (Cardiac Pacemaker): An electronic device implanted in the patient's heart, which stimulates and regulates the heart beat in cases of severe slowing of heart rate.
Peripheral Stent: A small vascular prosthesis (tube) consisting of stainless steel, nitinol or titanium wires. The stent will help keep the vessel open when mounted inside a diseased vessel.
Plaque: A well-demarcated area, raised patch, or swelling on a body surface. Atherosclerotic plaques occur on the inner surface of an artery and have a yellowish color produced by fatty deposits.
Platelet: A small blood cell which encourages the coagulation of blood.
Polyunsaturated fat: Fat that is usually liquid at room temperature. Includes many vegetable oils.
Potassium: An electrolyte (also know as a mineral) necessary for muscle metabolism (electrical and cellular function of the body).
Proximal: Nearest, closer to any point of reference.
Restenosis: Narrowing of a structure. This can occur after complete opening of a structure, duct or canal as restenosis of a coronary artery after a PTCA procedure
Revascularization: The need for an invasive method of increasing blood supply to a certain organ. In cardiology, it refers to the heart muscle and is performed by an intervention on the coronary arteries by means of a PTCA procedure, or by surgery.
Risk Factors: Certain habits and/or factors which have been shown to increase one's risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Saturated fat: Found in animal and dairy products such as beef, butter and cream in addition to certain plant product. It is the fat most likely to increase cholesterol levels and block arteries.
Sinoatrial (SA) node: Called the natural pacemaker of the heart. A small bundle of special muscle fibers within the right atrium of the heart that send out electrical impulses at regular intervals to cause contraction of the heart.
Stenosis: Narrowing or constriction of an opening such as an artery or valve.
Stent: An implant of a tubular structure (mostly made of metal) into vessels to keep them open.
Stent graft: A tube made of stainless steel and plastic or textile material which is inserted into blood vessel and left inside the artery to act as a scaffolding device.
Stress Test: (also known as treadmill stress test): procedure to measure your heart and lung function during exercise, often on a treadmill.
Stroke: Occurs when a weakened vessel blood to the brain develops a blood clot or bursts, cutting off blood flow to the brain.
Syncope: A pathological brief loss of consciousness (fainting) caused by a temporary deficiency of oxygen in the brain. This can be due to vasovagal syncope or heart disease such as arrhythmia or a severely narrowed heart valve.
Thrombus: A clot that forms in and blocks a blood vessel or that forms in one of the chambers of the heart. A thrombus can become an embolus if it becomes dislodged.
Triglyceride: A type of fat. One of the fats measured to detect abnormal fat metabolism. An elevated triglyceride level is not considered as significant a risk factor for atherosclerosis as elevated cholesterol. However, people with very elevated triglycerides often have elevated cholesterol levels as well. Normal blood level range is 100-180 mg/dl.
Ultrasound: It is the application of ultrasonic waves to therapy or diagnostics, as in imaging of internal structures.
Unstable angina pectoris: An angina pectoris that has become worse, and unstable.
Varicose Veins Scanning: Duplex scanning can identify the source of the variocosity permitting the physician to discuss potential intervention with the patient. The indications are: postpartum, previous deep and/or superficial venous thrombosis, bilateral and/or unilateral lower extremity edema, nonhealing ulcers.
Vasovagal syncope: The most common type of syncope, the "common faint." It is caused by the malfunction of the nerves that control the action of the heart and blood vessels. This malfunction causes the heart to slow down and the blood pressure to drop. This causes the person to lose consciousness.
Venous Duplex Scanning: Duplex scanning is to rule out the presence of occlusive thrombosis of the deep venous and superficial venous system. The indications are: postpartum, bilateral and/or unilateral lower extremity edema, trauma, localized pain.
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