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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms

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Biopsy: Removal and analysis of a tissue sample.

Blood Pressure: The force exerted in the arteries by blood as it circulates. It is divided into systolic (when the heart contracts) and diastolic (when the heart is filling) pressures.

Body Mass Index (BMI): A number that reflects body weight adjusted for height.

Bradycardia: A slow heart rate.

Bundle Branch: Part of the electrical pathway of the heart that delivers electrical impulses to the ventricles of the heart. The bundle divides or branches into a right bundle and the left bundle. The bundles take the impulse through the ventricles (bottom chambers) to cause them to contract.

Bundle Branch Block: Normally, the electrical impulse travels down both the right and left bundle branches at the same speed and the ventricles contract at the same time. If there is a block in one of the branches, it's called a bundle branch block. A bundle branch block causes one ventricle to contract just after the other ventricle.

Calcium-Channel Blocker: A drug that reduces spasm of the blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and controls angina; acts by selectively blocking the uptake of calcium by the cells.

Capillaries: Tiny blood vessels connecting arteries to veins. These blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to individual cells throughout the body.

Carbohydrate: An organic compound, found in food substances such as sugar, cereal and other grain products, and fruits and vegetables, which provides fuel for the body.

Carbon Dioxide: A gas created during metabolism, when the cells use oxygen to burn fat and release energy. The lungs release carbon dioxide when you breathe out.

Cardiac Arrest: When the heart stops beating suddenly and respiration (breathing) and other body functions stop as a result.

Cardiac Catheterization: A heart procedure used to diagnose heart disease. During the procedure, a catheter (inserted into an artery in your arm or leg) is guided to your heart, contrast dye is injected, and X-rays of the coronary arteries, heart chambers, and valves are taken. This procedure also measures the blood pressure in the heart chambers to help diagnose the causes of heart failure.

Cardiac Output: The amount of blood pumped by the heart each minute.

Cardiac Rehabilitation: A structured program of education and activity guided toward lifestyle modification, increasing functional capabilities, and peer support.

Cardiologist: Doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

Cardiomyopathy: An abnormal heart condition in which the heart is dilated (poor pumping power), restrictive (impaired ability of the heart to fill), and hypertrophic (enlarged heart).

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): A technique designed to temporarily circulate oxygenated blood through the body of a person whose heart has stopped. It involves assessing the airway; if necessary, breathing for the person; determining if the person is without a pulse; and if necessary, applying pressure to the chest to circulate blood.

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