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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms

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Right Ventricular Biopsy: The removal of a small piece of heart tissue from your right ventricle. This tissue sample is studied under a microscope to help your doctor assess your heart muscle.

Risk Factor (for heart disease): Traits people have that are linked to the development and progression of coronary artery disease. There are modifiable risk factors -- related to lifestyle and may be changed or controlled -- and non-modifiable risk factors -- related to aging and genetics and cannot be changed.

Rotoblation (Percutaneous Transluminal Rotational Atherectomy or PCRA): A special catheter, with an acorn-shaped diamond-coated tip, is guided to the point of narrowing in the coronary artery. The tip spins around at a high speed and grinds away the plaque on the artery walls. The microscopic particles are washed safely away in your blood stream and filtered out by the liver and spleen. This process is repeated as needed to allow better blood flow.

Saphenous Vein: Vein located in the leg(s) and used for coronary artery bypass surgery. It is surgically removed from the leg and sewn from the aorta to the coronary artery beyond the site of blockage.

Septum: The muscular wall separating the right and left sides of the heart.

Sestamibi Exercise Stress Test (Sestamibi stress test, stress perfusion scan, stress Sestamibi): A diagnostic study, which uses a small amount of radioactive tracer, injected into the body, and a special camera, which detects the radiation, to produce a computer image of the heart. Combined with exercise, the study can help determine if there is adequate blood flow to the heart at rest, as compared with activity.

Silent Ischemia: Inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart that does not cause symptoms such as chest pain.

Sinoatrial Node (SA or sinus node): A specialized cluster of cells in the heart that initiates the heartbeat. Known as the heart's natural pacemaker.

Sodium: A mineral found in most of the foods we eat. The largest source of dietary sodium comes from sodium chloride or table salt. Intake of sodium tends to increase the retention of water.

Sphygmomanometer: A device for measuring blood pressure.

Stenosis: Narrowing or restriction of a blood vessel or valve that reduces blood flow.

Stent: A small stainless steel mesh tube, inserted after angioplasty, that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside the coronary artery.

Sternum (breastbone): Bone in chest separated during open heart surgery.

Stress Test: See Exercise Stress Test.

Stroke: A sudden loss of brain function due to decreased blood flow to an area of the brain.

Stunned Myocardium: If blood flow is returned to an area of heart muscle after a period of ischemia (lack of blood supply), the heart muscle may not pump normally for a period of days following the event. This is called "stunned" heart muscle or myocardium.

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