A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms
Valve: Structures that maintain the proper direction of blood flow in the heart. There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid and the mitral valve, which lie between the atria and ventricles, and the pulmonic and aortic valves, which lie between the ventricles and the blood vessels leaving the heart.
Valvuloplasty: A procedure to improve valve function. Balloon valvuloplasty is when a balloon is used to at the time of cardiac catheterization to increase the area of a narrowed valve.
Variant Angina: A type of angina (chest pain) that occurs at rest; most often due to coronary spasm.
Vasodilator: A type of medication that relaxes and dilates the blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow.
Veins: Blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart.
Ventricles: The lower, pumping chambers of the heart. The heart has two ventricles - the right and left ventricle.
Ventricular Fibrillation: An erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles. The ventricles quiver and are unable to contract or pump blood to the body. This is a medical emergency that must be treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation as soon as possible.
Ventricular Rupture: In people who suffer a significant heart attack, it is sometimes the case that the area of the muscle wall of the heart that is affected can become so weakened that it ruptures and leaks blood from the inner chamber of the heart.
Ventricular Septal Defect: The right and left ventricles lie next to each other in the heart. The septum is the membranous wall that separates them. A ventricular septal defect is a hole in the septum.
Ventricular Tachycardia: A rapid life-threatening rhythm originating from the lower chambers of the heart. The rapid rate prevents the heart from filling adequately with blood, and less blood is able to pump through the body.
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW): WPW is a form of supraventricular tachycardia (fast heart rate originating above the ventricles). People with WPW have more than one electrical conduction pathway in their hearts (accessory pathways.) These electrical impulses set up a short circuit, causing the heart to beat rapidly and conduct impulses in both directions. The impulses travel through the extra pathway (short cut) as well as the normal AV-His-Purkinje system. The impulses can travel around the heart very quickly, in a circular pattern, causing the heart to beat unusually fast. This type of arrhythmia is called re-entry tachycardia.