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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease Glossary of Terms


ECMO (Extra corporeal Membrane Oxygenation): In people who are unable to provide oxygen for their own blood or enough blood circulation, they can be put on life support known as extra corporeal membrane oxygenation. The blood is withdrawn from a large vein in the body and passes through a pumping mechanism, and then through a device that puts oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide from the blood. The blood is then returned to the body and circulated in such a way as to sustain life.

Edema: Swelling; the accumulation of fluids, usually in the hands, feet, or abdomen.

Ejection Fraction (EF): The amount of blood pumped out of a ventricle during each heartbeat. The ejection fraction evaluates how well the heart is pumping and is often used to evaluate the degree of heart failure. Normal ejection fractions range from 55% to 65%.

Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG): The EKG records on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart using small electrode patches attached to the skin.

Electrophysiology (EP) Study: An EP study is a test that evaluates the electrical activity within your heart. This test is used to help your doctor find out the cause of your rhythm disturbance and the best treatment for you. During the test, your doctor may safely reproduce your abnormal heart rhythm and then give you medications or other treatments to see which one controls it best.

Embolus: A blood clot that moves through the blood stream.

Endocarditis: An infection of the heart or its valves. It is usually caused by bacteria and is more likely to occur in people who have heart valve defects or have had heart surgery to treat valve disease.

Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP): A treatment for those with symptomatic coronary artery disease (also called refractory angina), not eligible for standard treatments of revascularization (such as bypass surgery). During EECP, cuffs wrapped around the calves, thighs, and buttocks are inflated and deflated, gently but firmly compressing the blood vessels in the lower limbs, increasing blood flow to the heart. EECP may stimulate the openings or formation of collateral vessels to create a "natural bypass" around narrowed or blocked arteries.

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