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Heart Disease Health Center

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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms


Exercise Stress Test: A test used to provide information about how the heart responds to stress. It usually involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty, while the electrocardiogram, heart rate, and blood pressure are monitored. If you are not able to do activity, medications may be used to "stress" the heart.

Fat: A high-energy fuel source.

Fiber: An indigestible carbohydrate found in foods such as fruits and vegetables; aids in digestion. It can also decrease cholesterol and stabilize sugar metabolism.

Fibrillation: Abnormally rapid, inefficient contractions of the atria or ventricles. Ventricular fibrillation is life-threatening.

Flutter: One form of rapid heartbeat.

Free Mammary Artery Graft: When the surgeon removes the mammary artery from its origin to use as a heart bypass graft.

Free Radical: A destructive fragment of oxygen produced as a by-product. Increased free radicals are thought to trigger atherosclerosis.

Glucose: Blood sugar.

Head Upright Tilt Test (HUT, tilt table test, head-up tilt test): A test used to determine the cause of fainting spells. The test involves being tilted at different angles for a period of time. Heart rhythm, blood pressure, and other measurements are evaluated with changes in position.

Heart Attack (myocardial infarction): A lack of blood supply to the heart caused by a blood clot in the coronary artery. This results in permanent damage to the heart muscle and the severity of damage varies from normal, mild, to severe.

Heart Block: Also called an arrhythmia, the electrical current is slowed between the atria and ventricles. In more severe cases, conduction is blocked completely and the atria and ventricles beat independently. This is when a pacemaker would be suggested.

Heart Failure (congestive heart failure, CHF): A progressive condition where the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump blood efficiently. Fluid accumulates in the lungs, hands, ankles, or other parts of the body and is often associated with shortness of breath.

Heart Lung Bypass Machine: A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during surgery.

Heart Surgery: Heart surgery is any surgery that involves the heart or heart valves.

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