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A Glossary of Heart Failure Terms

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Veins: Blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart.

Ventricles: The lower, pumping chambers of the heart. The heart has two ventricles -- the right and left ventricle.

Ventricular Fibrillation: An erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles. The ventricles quiver and are unable to contract or pump blood to the body. This is a medical emergency that must be treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation as soon as possible.

Ventricular Rupture: An area of the muscular wall of the heart that weakens and ruptures, usually due to a heart attack.  If this happens, then blood from within the heart can leak into the pericardium. This is a medical emergency and usually requires urgent surgery.

Ventricular Septal Defect: The right and left ventricles lie next to each other in the heart. The septum is the membranous wall that separates them. A ventricular septal defect is a hole in the septum.

Ventricular Tachycardia: A rapid life-threatening rhythm originating from the lower chambers of the heart. The rapid rate prevents the heart from filling adequately with blood, and less blood is able to pump through the body.

Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW): WPW is an abnormal conduction pathway that can sometimes cause an arrhythmia. People with WPW have more than one electrical conduction pathway in their heart (accessory pathways). These electrical impulses set up a short circuit causing the heart to beat rapidly and conduct impulses in both directions. The impulses travel through the extra pathway (short cut) as well as the normal AV-HIS Purkinje system. The impulses can travel around the heart very quickly, in a circular pattern, causing the heart to beat unusually fast. This is called a re-entrant tachycardia.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on June 28, 2012
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