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A Glossary of Heart Failure Terms

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Fat: A high-energy fuel source.

Fiber: An indigestible carbohydrate found in foods such as fruits and vegetables; aids in digestion.

Fibrillation: Abnormally rapid, inefficient contractions of the atria or ventricles. Ventricular fibrillation is life-threatening.

Flutter: One form of rapid heartbeat.

Free Mammary Artery Graft: When the surgeon removes the mammary artery from its origin to use it as a bypass graft.

Free Radical: A destructive fragment of oxygen produced as a by-product. Increased free radicals are thought to trigger atherosclerosis.

Glucose: Blood sugar.

Head Upright Tilt Test (HUT, tilt table test, head-up tilt test): A test used to determine the cause of fainting spells. The test involves being tilted at different angles for a period of time. Heart rhythm, blood pressure, and other measurements are evaluated with changes in position.

Heart Attack (myocardial infarction): Permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart for an extended time period due to a blockage in a coronary artery.

Heart Block: An arrhythmia where the electrical current is slowed between the atria and ventricles. In more severe cases, conduction is blocked completely and a pacemaker is usually required..

Heart Failure (congestive heart failure, CHF): A condition where the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump blood efficiently, causing the body to retain salt and fluids. Fluid accumulates in the lungs, hands, ankles, or other parts of the body.

Heart Lung Bypass Machine: A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during surgery.

Heart Surgery: Heart surgery is any surgery that involves the heart or heart valves.

Heart Valves: There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid and the mitral valve, which lie between the atria and ventricles, and the pulmonic and aortic valves, which lie between the ventricles and the blood vessels leaving the heart. The heart valves help to maintain one-way blood flow through the heart.

Hemoglobin: A protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide and gives blood its red color.

Hibernating Myocardium: Hibernating myocardium is heart muscle that does not pump normally due to decreased blood flow, usually from a coronary artery blockage or heart attack.  If normal blood flow is restored (for example, by angioplasty of a coronary blockage), then the myocardium may be able to return to normal function.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Lipoprotein particle in the blood. HDL is known as "good" cholesterol because it removes cholesterol from the bloodstream and deposits it in the liver where it is excreted by the body. High HDL is thought to protect against coronary artery disease.

Holter Monitor: A small recorder (monitor) that monitors for abnormal heartbeats. It is attached to electrodes on your chest. It records the heart's rhythm continuously for 24 to 48 hours. After the monitor is removed, the heart's beats are counted and analyzed by a technician with the aid of a computer. Your doctor can learn if you are having irregular heartbeats, what kind they are, how long they last, as well as what may cause them.

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