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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms

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Constrictive Pericarditis: The pericardium is the sac around the heart. In people with constrictive pericarditis, this sac becomes inflamed and scarred leading to shrinkage of the pericardium. This can prevent the heart from filling to its full extent.

Coronary Arteries: Network of blood vessels that branch off the aorta to supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. There are two main coronary arteries: the right and the left. The left splits into two arteries called the circumflex and the left anterior descending (LAD) arteries, thus, the heart is often considered to have three major coronary arteries.

Coronary Artery Disease (atherosclerosis): A build-up of fatty material in the wall of the coronary artery that causes significant narrowing of the artery.

Coronary Spasm: Repeated contractions and dilations of the coronary arteries, causing a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle. It may occur at rest and can even occur in people without significant coronary artery disease.

Cyanosis: A blue tint to the skin, indicating the body is not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood.

Defibrillator: A machine that is used to administer an electric shock to the heart in order to re-establish normal heart rhythm.

Diabetes: A condition in which the body does not produce or respond to insulin (a hormone produced by your body, which allows blood sugar or glucose to move into your body's cells for energy).

Diastolic Pressure: The pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart is filling. It is the lower of two blood pressure measurements (for example, when the pressure reading is 120/80, 80 is the diastolic pressure).

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 is reduced.

Dilatation: The increase in size of a blood vessel.

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. 

Diuretic: A drug that enables the kidneys to rid the body of excess fluid. 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 moving 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.

Dyspnea: Difficulty breathing.

Echocardiogram (echo): An imaging procedure that creates a moving picture of the heart's valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held 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 blockage of valves.

WebMD Medical Reference

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