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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms

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Beta-Blocker: A drug that slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, controls angina, and protects patients with prior heart attacks from future events.

Bicuspid Valve: A valve with two leaflets (cusps) instead of three.

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. Numbers between 18.5-25 are normal, 25-30 is overweight, and greater than 30 is obese.

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. Normally, electrical impulses start in the sinoatrial or SA node and travel to the atrioventricular or AV node. Then it goes to the bundle of His. 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 the electrical impulse to travel more slowly through the blocked bundle.  As a result, one ventricle contracts 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, grain products, 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.

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.

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