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A Glossary of Heart Failure Terms

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

Ejection Fraction (EF): The amount of blood -- given as a percentage -- pumped out of a ventricle during each heartbeat. The ejection fraction evaluates how well the heart is pumping. Normal ejection fractions range from 55% to 65%.

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

Electrolyte: One of the substances in the blood that helps to regulate the proper balance of body fluids. Examples of electrolytes include sodium and potassium.

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, then give you medications to see which one controls it best.

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

Endocarditis: An infection of the inner lining 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.

Event Monitor (Loop recorder): A small recorder (monitor) that monitors your heartbeat and is used to record potential abnormalities. It is attached to electrodes on your chest and is worn continuously for a period of time. If symptoms, such as palpitations, are felt, an event button can be depressed and the heart's rhythm is recorded and saved in the recorder. The rhythm can be saved and transmitted over the phone line.

Exercise Stress Echocardiogram (Stress Echo): A procedure that combines echocardiography with exercise to evaluate the heart's function at rest and with exertion. Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a 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. Echo may be combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

Exercise Stress Test: A test used to provide information about how the heart responds to stress. It usually involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty, while the electrocardiogram, heart rate, and blood pressure are monitored. 

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