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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms


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.

Cardiomyopathy: An abnormal heart condition in which the heart is dilated (poor pumping power), restrictive (impaired ability of the heart to fill), constricted (kept from filling due to external compression), and/or hypertrophic (enlarged heart).

Cardiopulmonary Recuscitation (CPR): A technique designed to temporarily circulate oxygenated blood through the body of a person whose heart has stopped. It involves assessing the airway; if necessary breathing for the person; determining if the person is without a pulse; and if necessary, applying pressure to the chest to circulate blood.

Cardiovascular: Relates to the heart and blood vessels.

Cardioversion: A procedure used to convert an irregular heart rhythm to a normal heart rhythm by applying electric shock or using certain medications.

Catheter: A slender, hollow, flexible tube.

Chest X-ray (CXR, chest film): A very small amount of radiation is used to produce an image of the structures of the chest (heart, lungs, and bones) on film.

Cholesterol: A fatty substance made by the body and found in some foods. Cholesterol is deposited in the arteries in coronary artery disease.

Chordae Tendinae: Thin chords that provide support to the tricuspid and mitral valves of the heart helping them to open and shut properly.

Clubbing: An abnormality where the ends of the fingers and toes enlarge and the nails curve; often it is related to an inadequate oxygen-rich blood supply, however it can be hereditary and completely normal. Often seen with congenital heart defects, but also seen in other conditions, such as emphysema or other lung diseases.

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