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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms


Morbidity Rate: The percentage of people who have complications from a medical condition or after a procedure or treatment.

Mortality Rate: The percentage of deaths associated with a disease or medical treatment.

Multigated Acquisition Scan (MUGA scan): A nuclear scan that evaluates the pumping function of the ventricles.

Murmur: Turbulent blood flow across a heart valve creating a "swishing" sound heard by a stethoscope.

Myocardial Biopsy (Cardiac biopsy): An invasive procedure to obtain a small piece of heart muscle tissue that is sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Myocardial Infarction (Heart attack): See heart attack (above).

Myocarditis: Inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle).

Myocardium: Heart muscle.

Myomectomy: A surgical procedure to remove abnormally thickened heart muscle. Used to treat people with idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) or HOCM thereby relieving the obstruction to blood flow in the left ventricle during contraction.

Nitroglycerin: A medication used to relax and dilate the blood vessels (vasodilator), improving blood flow. Nitroglycerin works very quickly and is the most common vasodilator used to treat angina.

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 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.

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