Glossary of Heart Disease Terms

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on August 25, 2019

Angina-- Discomfort, pain, or pressure in the chest caused by an inadequate blood supply to the heart. Pain may also be felt in the neck, jaw, or arms.

Angiogram (cardiac catheterization) -- A test used to diagnose heart disease. During the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the leg or wrist, and contrast dye is injected into the arteries and heart. X-rays of the arteries and heart are taken.

Anticoagulant -- A medication that prevents blood from clotting; used for some people with a history of heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, or blood clots.

Atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") -- The process whereby abnormal deposits of fats, cholesterol, and plaque build up, leading to coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Beta-blocker -- A drug that slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, controls chest pain, and helps reduce the risk of heart attack in patients with a history of heart attack.

Calcium-channel blocker -- A drug that lowers blood pressure and may slow heart rate to control chest pain. The drug works by blocking the uptake of calcium in the cells.

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Cardiac Catheterization (angiogram) -- A test used to diagnose heart disease. During the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the leg, wrist, or arm, and contrast dye is injected into the arteries and heart. X-rays of the arteries and heart are taken.

Catheter -- A slender, hollow, flexible tube.

Coronary artery disease -- A buildup of fatty material in the wall of the coronary artery that causes narrowing of the artery.

Dyspnea -- Shortness of breath.

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

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. The severity of damage varies from mild to severe.

Heart-lung (cardiopulmonary) bypass machine -- A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during heart bypass surgery.

Heart surgery -- Heart surgery is any surgery that involves the heart or heart valves.

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Ischemia-- Condition in which not enough oxygen-rich blood is supplied to the heart muscle to meet the heart's needs.

Off-pump heart surgery -- Heart surgery done without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

Plaque -- Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins, and calcium along the lining of arteries, caused by atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery.

WebMD Medical Reference

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WebMD Medical Reference.

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