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Heart Disease Health Center

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A Glossary of Heart Disease Terms


Edema: Swelling; the accumulation of fluids, usually in the hands, feet, legs or abdomen.

Ejection Fraction (EF): The amount of blood pumped out of a ventricle during each heartbeat. The ejection fraction evaluates how well the heart is pumping.

Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG): The EKG records on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart using small electrode patches attached to the skin.

Electrophysiology (EP) Study: An EP study is a test that evaluates the electrical activity within your heart. This test is used to help your doctor find out the cause of your rhythm disturbance and the best treatment for you. During the test, your doctor may safely reproduce your abnormal heart rhythm, then give you medications to see which one controls it best.

Embolus: A blood clot that moves through the blood stream.

Endocarditis: An infection of the inner lining of the heart or its valves. It is usually caused by bacteria and is more likely to occur in people who have heart valve defects or have had heart surgery to treat valve disease.

Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP): A treatment for those with symptomatic coronary artery disease (also called refractory angina), who are not eligible for standard treatments of revascularization (such as heart bypass surgery.) During EECP, cuffs wrapped around the calves, thighs, and buttocks are inflated and deflated, gently but firmly compressing the blood vessels in the lower limbs, increasing blood flow to the heart. EECP may stimulate the openings or formation of collateral vessels to create a "natural bypass" around narrowed or blocked arteries.

Event Monitor (Loop recorder): A small recorder (monitor) is attached to electrodes on your chest. It is worn continuously for a period of time. If symptoms are felt, an event button can be depressed, and the heart's rhythm is recorded and saved in the recorder. The rhythm can be saved and transmitted over the phone line.

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram (Stress Echo): A procedure that combines echocardiography with exercise to evaluate the heart's function at rest and with exertion. It can evaluate the heart muscle to determine if it is receiving enough oxygen, as well as evaluate the function of the valves. Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a picture of the heart's movement, valves, and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

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