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Heart Failure Health Center

A Glossary of Heart Failure Terms

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Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs): A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure.

Annulus: A ring of tough fibrous tissue that is attached to and supports the leaflets of the heart valve.

Anomalous Coronary Artery: The normal anatomy for the coronary arteries involves their origin from the aorta at each of two separate sites. Sometimes people can be born with the origin of a coronary artery that comes from an abnormal site.  In rare cases, the anomaly can lead to problems of coronary ischemia which can subsequently lead to a heart attack. If this type of anomaly is present, then it may require surgery.

Antiarrhythmic: A drug that is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

Anticoagulant ("blood thinner"): A drug that prevents blood from clotting; used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

Antihypertensive: A drug used to treat high blood pressure.

Antioxidant: Vitamins (A, C, and E) that may help to limit the cellular damage caused by free radicals (which are released when tissue is being injured, such as during the progression of heart disease.) 

Aorta: The large artery leaving the heart that carries blood to other parts of the body.

Aortic Insufficiency: Aortic insufficiency refers specifically to the aortic valve, which is the valve the blood passes through as it leaves the heart and enters the aorta. When blood leaks back through the valve it is known as aortic insufficiency. Small amounts of aortic insufficiency may be inconsequential, but larger amounts require repair or replacement of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve: The aortic valve is the last valve through which the blood passes before it enters the aorta or main blood vessel of the body. The valve's role is to prevent blood from leaking back into the left ventricle from the aorta after it has been ejected from the heart.

Aortic Valve Replacement: When the aortic valve is diseased, it can become either stenotic (too narrow) or insufficient (leaky). In such cases, the aortic valve may need to be replaced with either a prosthetic or human valve.

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