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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms


Dilated Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the myocardium (heart muscle) that causes the heart cavity to become stretched and enlarged and the pumping capacity of the heart to be reduced.

Dilatation: The increase in size of a blood vessel or heart chamber.

Dipyridamole Stress Test : If you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle for a stress test, a medication, called dipyridamole (Persantine) is used instead of exercise to test the heart's blood flow. Other drugs that are also utilized in stress tests now are adenosine (Adenocard) and Lexiscan.

Diuretic: A drug that enables the kidneys to rid the body of excess fluid. A diuretic may be referred to as a "water pill."

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram (Dobutamine echo): A procedure that involves infusing a medication (dobutamine) through an intravenous (IV) line while you are closely monitored. This drug stimulates your heart, allowing evaluation of heart and valve function at rest and with exertion, when you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary cycle.

Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a graphic outline of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest.

Dyspnea: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Echocardiogram (echo): An imaging procedure that creates a moving picture outline of the heart's valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a handheld wand placed on your chest or passed down your throat. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves. Doppler senses the speed of sound and can pick up abnormal leakage or restriction of the valves.

ECMO (Extra corporeal Membrane Oxygenation): In people who are unable to provide oxygen for their own blood or enough blood circulation, they can be put on life support known as extra corporeal membrane oxygenation. The blood is withdrawn from a large vein in the body and passes through a pumping mechanism, and then through a device that puts oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide from the blood. The blood is then returned to the body and circulated in such a way as to sustain life.

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