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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms

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Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs): A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

Annulus: A ring of tough fibrous tissue that is attached to and supports the leaflets of the heart valve.

Anomalous Coronary Artery: The normal anatomy for the coronary arteries involves their origin from the aorta at each of two separate sites. Sometimes people can be born with the origin of a coronary artery that comes from an abnormal site and this can lead to problems of coronary ischemia which can subsequently lead to a heart attack. Not all coronary anomalies need surgery, but some do and the specific operation depends on which of the many varieties of coronary anomalies is present.

Antiarrhythmic: A drug that is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

Anticoagulant ("blood thinner"): A medication that prevents blood from clotting; used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

Antihypertensive: A medication used to treat high blood pressure.

Antioxidant: Vitamins (A, C, and E) that may help to limit the cellular damage caused by free radicals (which are released when tissue is being injured, such as during the progression of heart disease.) However, no studies have shown that taking antioxidants in supplement form prevent heart attacks or other forms of heart disease.

Aorta: Large artery leaving the heart. All blood pumped out of the left ventricle travels through the aorta on its way to other parts of the body.

Aortic Insufficiency: Aortic insufficiency refers specifically to the aortic valve, which is the valve the blood passes through as it leaves the heart and enters the aorta. When blood leaks back through the valve it is known as aortic insufficiency. Small amounts of aortic insufficiency may be inconsequential, but larger amounts may require repair or replacement of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve: The aortic valve is the last valve through which the blood passes before it enters the aorta or main blood vessel of the body. The valve's role is to prevent blood from leaking back into the left ventricle from the aorta after it has been ejected from the heart.

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