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Cardiovascular Terminology Glossary

A  B   C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M N  O   P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y Z

 

 

 

A 

ablation - elimination or removal

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor - a medication that lowers blood pressure

aneurysm - a sac-like protrusion from a blood vessel or the heart

angina pectoris (also called angina) - recurring chest pain or discomfort that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood

angiography - an x-ray that uses dye injected into the coronary arteries so that blood circulation can be studied

angioplasty - a non-surgical procedure for treating diseased arteries

anticoagulant - a medication that keeps blood from clotting

antihypertensive - a medication or other therapy that lowers blood pressure

aorta - the largest artery in the body and the primary blood vessel leading from the heart to the body

aortic valve - the valve that regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta

aphasia - the inability to speak or understand due to brain injury or disease

arrhythmia (or dysrhythmia) - an abnormal heartbeat

arterioles - small branches of arteries

artery - a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body

arteriosclerosis - commonly called "hardening of the arteries;" a variety of conditions caused by fatty or calcium deposits in the artery walls causing them to thicken

atherectomy - a non-surgical procedure that involves removing plaque from the walls of arteries with a rotating blade

atherosclerosis - a type of arteriosclerosis caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery

atrium (atria pl.) - one of two upper chambers in the heart

atrioventricular block - an interruption of the electrical signal between the atria and the ventricles

atrioventricular (AV) node - a cluster of cells between the atria and ventricles that regulate the electrical current

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beta blocker - an antihypertensive medication that limits the activity of epinephrine (a hormone that increases blood pressure)

biopsy - the procedure of taking a small tissue sample for examination

blood clot - a gelled mass of blood tissue

blood pressure - the force or pressure exerted by the heart when pumping blood; also, the pressure of blood in the arteries

blood pressure cuff - a device usually placed around the upper of the arm to measure blood pressure

brady... - suffix meaning slow

bradycardia - abnormally slow heartbeat

bundle-branch block - a condition in which the heart's electrical system is unable to normally conduct the electrical signal

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C 

calcium channel blocker (or calcium blocker) - a medication that lowers blood pressure

capillaries - tiny blood vessels between arteries and veins that distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body

cardiac - pertaining to the heart

cardiac arrest - the stopping of heartbeat

cardiac catheterization - a diagnostic procedure in which a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery to go to the heart in order to image the heart and blood vessels

cardiac output - the amount of blood that goes through the circulatory system in one minute

cardiology - the clinical study and practice of treating the heart

cardiovascular (CV) - pertaining to the heart and blood vessel (circulatory) system

cardioversion - the procedure of applying electrical shock to the chest to change an abnormal heartbeat into a normal one.

cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to lose its pumping strength

carotid artery - the major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain

cerebral embolism - a blood clot from one part of the body that is carried by the bloodstream to the brain where it blocks an artery

cerebral hemorrhage - bleeding within the brain

cerebral thrombosis - formation of a blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain

cerebrovascular - pertaining to blood vessels in the brain

cerebrovascular accident - apoplexy or stroke; an impeded blood supply to the brain

cerebrovascular occlusion - an obstruction in the blood vessel in the brain

cholesterol - a waxy substance that is produced in the human body, animal fats, and in dairy products and is transported in the blood

cineangiography - the procedure of taking moving pictures to show the passage of dye through blood vessels

circulatory system - pertaining to the heart and blood vessels, and the circulation of blood

claudication - pain or fatigue in arms and legs due to poor supply of oxygen to the muscles

computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) - a non-invasive procedure that takes cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs; to detect any abnormalities that may not show up on an ordinary x-ray

congenital - present at birth

congestive heart failure - a condition in which the heart cannot pump out all of the blood that enters it, which leads to an accumulation of blood in the vessels and fluid in the body tissues

coronary arteries - two arteries that come from the aorta to provide blood to the heart muscle

coronary artery bypass graft (CAB or CABG) - a surgical procedure in which a healthy blood vessel is transplanted from another part of the body into the heart to replace or bypass a diseased vessel

coronary artery spasm - a sudden closing of an artery, which cuts off blood flow to the heart and causes symptom of angina or heart attack

coronary heart disease - a condition in which the coronary arteries narrow from an accumulation of plaque (atherosclerosis) and cause a decrease in blood flow

coronary occlusion - an obstruction of one of the coronary arteries that decreases flow to the heart muscle

coronary thrombosis - the formation of a clot in one of the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle

cyanosis - insufficient oxygen in the blood

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D 

defibrillator - an electronic device used to establish normal heartbeat

diastolic blood pressure - the lowest blood pressure measure in the arteries, which occurs between heartbeats

diuretic - a medication that lowers blood pressure

Doppler ultrasound - A procedure that uses sound waves to evaluate heart, blood vessels, and valves

dyspnea - shortness of breath

dysrhythmia - an abnormal heart rhythm

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E 

echocardiography - a computer procedure that studies or evaluates of the heart's function by using soundwaves recorded on an electronic sensor that produces a moving picture of the heart and heart valves

edema - swelling

ejection fraction - the measurement of the blood pumped out of the ventricles

electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage

electrophysiological study (EPS) - a cardiac catheterization to study electrical current in patients who have arrhythmias

endarterectomy - the surgical removal of plaque or blood clots in an artery

endocardium - the membrane that covers the inside surface of the heart

endocarditis - a bacterial infections of the heart lining

enlarged heart - a condition of the heart in which it is abnormally larger than normal

epicardium - the membrane that covers the outside of the heart

estrogen - a hormone produced by the ovaries

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F 

fibrillation - rapid contractions of the heart muscles

flutter - ineffective contractions of the heart muscles

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G
 

gated blood pool scan - a nuclear scan to see how the heart wall moves and how much blood is expelled with each heart beat, just after the patient has walked on a treadmill or ridden on a stationary bike

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H 

heart attack - also called myocardial infarction; damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient blood supply

heart block - interrupted electrical impulse to heart muscles

heart-lung machine - a machine that performs for the heart during open heart surgery

heart valve prolapse - a condition of the heart valve in which it is partially open when it should be closed

high blood pressure - blood pressure that is above the normal range

high density lipoprotein (HDL) - the "good" cholesterol that promotes breakdown and removal from the body of cholesterol

Holter monitor - A portable ECG machine

hypertension - high blood pressure

hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) - a bulge in the ventricle that causes impeded blood flow

hypoglycemia - low levels of blood sugar

hypoxia - abnormal oxygen content in the organs and tissues of the body

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I

immunosuppresive medications -  medications that suppress the body's immune system used to minimize rejection of transplanted organs

impedance plethysmography - a test to evaluate blood flow through the leg

inferior vena cava - the large blood vessel (vein) that returns blood from the legs and abdomen to the heart

inotropic medications - medications that increase strength of the contractions in the heart

intravascular echocardiography - echocardiography and cardiac catheterization

ischemia - decreased flow of oxygenated blood to an organ due to obstruction in an artery

ischemic heart disease - coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries and decreased blood flow to the heart

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J 

jugular veins - veins that carry blood from the head back to the heart

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K
 

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L
 

lesion - an injury or wound

lipid - a fatty substance in the blood

lipoproteins - transporters of fatty substances in the blood

low density lipoprotein (LDL) - the primary cholesterol carrying

lumen - the hollow area within a tube

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M 

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a non-invasive procedure that produces two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord

mitral valve - the valve that controls blood flow between the left atrium and left ventricle in the heart

mitral valve prolapse - a bulge in the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart that causes backward flow of blood into the atrium

monounsaturated fats - dietary fats, such as olive oil or canola oil, that don't seem to have any affect on blood cholesterol

murmur - a blowing or rasping sound heard while listening to the heart that may or may not indicate problems within the heart or circulatory system

myocardial infarction (heart attack) - occurs when one of more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle

myocardial ischemia - insufficient blood flow to part of the heart

myocardium - the muscle wall of the heart

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N 

nitroglycerin - a medication used to relax or dilate arteries.

necrosis - pertaining to the death of tissue.

noninvasive procedures - a diagnostic effort or treatment that does not require entering the body or puncturing the skin.

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O 

obesity - overweight by 30 percent of the ideal body weight

occluded artery - an artery that is narrowed by plaque that impedes blood flow

open heart surgery - surgery that involves opening the chest and heart while a heart-lung machine performs for the heart

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P 

pacemaker - an electronic device that is surgically implanted into the patient's heart and chest to regulate heartbeat

palpitation - irregular heartbeat

percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) - angioplasty

pericarditis - inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart

pericardiocentesis - a diagnostic procedure that uses a needle to draw fluid from the pericardium

pericardium - the membrane that surrounds the heart

plaque - deposits of fat or other substances attached to the artery wall

platelets - cells found in the blood

polyunsaturated fat - a type of fat found in vegetable oils and margarines that doesn't appear to raise blood cholesterol levels

positron emission tomography (PET) - a nuclear scanning device that gives a three-dimensional picture of the heart to provide information about the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle

pulmonary - pertains to lungs and respiratory system

pulmonary edema - a condition in which there is a fluid accumulation in the lungs caused by an incorrectly functioning heart

pulmonary valve - the heart valve located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery that controls blood flow to the lungs

pulmonary vein - the vessel that carries newly oxygenated blood to the heart from the lungs

pulse oximeter - a device that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood

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Q 

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R 

radioisotope - a radioactive material injected into the body so that a nuclear scanner can make pictures

radionuclide ventriculography - a diagnostic procedure used to determine the shape and size of the heart's chambers

regurgitation - backward flow of blood caused by a defective heart valve

renal - pertains to kidneys

rheumatic fever - a childhood disease that may damage the heart valves or the outer lining of the heart

risk factor - a condition, element, or activity that may adversely affect the heart

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S 

saturated fat - fat that is found in foods from animal meats and skin, dairy products and some vegetables

septal defect - a hole in the wall of the heart

septum - the muscle wall that divides the heart chambers

shock - impaired body function due to blood loss or a disturbance in the circulatory system

shunt - a connector to allow blood flow between two locations

silent ischemia - ischemia not accompanied by chest pain

sinus node - the cells that produce the electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract

sphygmomanometer - the instrument used to measure blood pressure

stent - a device implanted in a vessel used to help keep it open

stenosis - the narrowing or constriction of a blood vessel or valve in the heart

stethoscope - the instrument used to listen to the heart and other sounds in the body

streptokinase - a clot-dissolving medication

sternum - the breastbone

stress - mental or physical tension that results from physical, emotional, or chemical causes

stroke - the sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain

subarachnoid hemorrhage - bleeding on the surface of the brain

sudden death - death that occurs unexpectedly or immediately after onset of symptoms

superior vena cava - the large vein that returns blood to the heart from the head and arms

syncope - light-headedness or fainting caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain

systolic blood pressure - the highest blood pressure measured in the arteries

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T

tachycardia - rapid heart beat

tachypnea - rapid breathing

telemetry unit - a small transmitter with wires that attach ECG patches to the chest that is used to send information about the heart via radio transmission to healthcare professionals for evaluation

thallium stress test - a study in which radioactive potassium is carried by the blood and the progress is followed by x-ray pictures

thrombolysis - the breaking up of a blood clot

thrombosis - a blood clot formed in the blood vessel or in the heart

thrombolytic therapy - a medication that dissolves blood clots

tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) - a medication used to dissolves blood clots

trans fat - vegetable oil that has been treated with hydrogen in order to make it more solid and give it a longer shelf life

transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) - a diagnostic test that is used to measure the sound waves that bounce off of the heart

transient ischemic attack (TIA) - a stroke-like event that lasts for a short period of time caused by a blocked blood vessel

transplantation - replacing a damaged organ with one from a donor

tricuspid valve - the heart valve that controls blood flow from the right atrium into the right ventricle

triglyceride - a fat-like substance found in the blood

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U

ultrasound - a diagnostic tool used to measure high-frequency sound vibrations

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V 

valves (the heart valves are tricuspid, pulmonic, mitral, and aortic) - the "doors" between the chambers of the heart

valvuloplasty - repairing a heart valve

varicose vein - an abnormally dilated vein

vascular - pertaining to blood vessels

vasodilator - a medication that dilates or widens the opening in a blood vessel

vasodepressors - a medication that raises blood pressure

vein - a blood vessel that carries blood from the body back into the heart

ventricle - one of the two lower chambers of the heart

ventricular fibrillation - a condition in which the ventricles contract in rapid and unsynchronized rhythms and cannot pump blood into the body

ventricular tachycardia - a condition in which the ventricles cause a very fast heartbeat

vertigo - dizziness

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W 

Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome - An extra electrical pathway that connects the atria and ventricles and causes rapid heartbeat

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X 

x-ray - a machine that used radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body

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Y, Z 

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