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Heart Disease Health Center

A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms

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Nuclear Scan: Nuclear imaging is a method of producing images by detecting radiation from different parts of the body after the administration of a radioactive tracer material.

Obesity: Excess fat due to eating more calories than used. It is usually defined by having a body mass index (BMI-see above) of 25 or higher.

Occlusion: Blockage.

Off Pump Heart Surgery: Heart surgery done without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

Pacemaker: A small electronic device is implanted under the skin and sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and to prevent slow heart rates.

Palpitation: A fluttering sensation in the chest that is often related to a missed heart beat or rapid heartbeat.

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.

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