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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms

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Papillary Muscles: Small muscles that are part of the inside walls of the ventricles and attach to the chordae tendineae.

Patency Rate: The likelihood that a vessel will remain open.

Pericardiocentesis (pericardial tap): An invasive procedure that involves using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac around the heart. The fluid may then be sent to a laboratory for tests to look for signs of infection or cancer.

Pericardium: The sac that surrounds the heart.

Pericarditis: Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the sac around the heart.

Plaque: Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins, and calcium material along the lining of arteries seen in atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery.

Platelets: Components of blood that aid in clotting.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET or cardiac viability study): An imaging procedure that uses radioactive tracers to create 3-dimensional pictures of the tissues inside of the body and can monitor metabolic processes.

Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs): An irregular heartbeat in which the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) beat before they are supposed to.

Prophylaxis: The prevention of disease.

Pulmonary Edema: An abnormal swelling of tissue in the lungs due to fluid build-up.

Pulmonary Hypertension: Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure of the pulmonary arteries.

Pulmonic Valve: The last valve through which the blood passes before it enters the pulmonary artery that lies between the right atrium and from the right ventricle.

Pulse Rate: The number of heartbeats per minute. The resting pulse rate for an average adult is between 50 and 90 beats per minute.

Q-wave MI (STEMI or ST-elevation MI): A heart attack that is caused by a prolonged period of blocked blood supply. An area of the heart muscle is affected, causing changes known as "Q-waves" on the ECG and chemical markers in the blood.

Radial Artery: The radial artery is a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood in the forearm. You can feel the pulse of the radial artery by feeling the inside of the wrist underneath the base of the thumb.

Radionuclide Study (MUGA): See MUGA above.

Regurgitation: Leaking or backward flow.

Restenosis: The closing or narrowing of an artery that was previously opened by a procedure such as angioplasty.

Rheumatic Fever: Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory reaction (usually in response to a strep infection) that can involve the heart and heart valves.

Rheumatic Heart Disease: Rheumatic fever can lead to a condition known as rheumatic heart disease. This is usually a thickening and stenosis of one or more of the heart valves and often requires surgery to repair or replace the involved valve(s).

Rheumatic Valve Disease: Rheumatic valve disease is a consequence of rheumatic fever. It is a thickening and stenosis of one or more of the heart valves and often requires surgery to repair or replace the affected valve(s).

WebMD Medical Reference

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