coronary arteries, typically an artery that is already partially blocked from cholesterol buildup or other fatty deposits.
CPR: See cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
cyanosis: A condition in which there is a lack of oxygenated blood, causing the blood to turn a dark bluish or purple color, which will make the skin appear bluish. In darker skinned people, the tissue under the fingernails will be bluish.
cyclosporine: A drug used to help prevent organ rejection in patients who have had transplants.
defibrillation: A process usually using an electric shock to the heart to stop the atria and/or ventricles from beating chaotically and convert the heart to a more normal rhythm.
descending aorta: The portion of the aorta between the aortic arch and the abdomen.
diastole: The portion of the cardiac cycle of beating and resting in which the heart is relaxed.
digitalis: A drug made from the foxglove plant. It is believed to help the heart contract more forcefully and efficiently and also help the failing heart contract more normally.
dissection: When tissues in the body are separated.
distal: Meaning beyond or the farther end. When referring to a blood vessel, it's the portion that's farthest from the heart.
diuretic: This is a drug or other substance used to stimulate the kidneys to produce more urine and remove excess fluid from the body.
Doppler ultrasonography: A technique using high frequency sound waves to detect blood flow through the heart and blood vessels. It is somewhat like the sonar used to detect submarines.
ductus arteriosus: A tube connecting the pulmonary artery to the aorta. After birth, when the lungs begin to function, this tube normally closes. If it stays open, it's known as patent ductus arteriosus. Over time, this can cause problems such as heart failure and may need to be surgically closed.
dyspnea: The sensation of being short of breath.
echocardiogram: A movie of your heart functioning using a technique whereby high frequency sound waves develop images of the beating heart.
edema: Swelling of tissues due to excessive fluid.
ejection fraction: Referring to the percentage of blood ejected out of the heart ventricles, usually the left ventricle, during a single contraction. With a single normal heartbeat, about 50 percent to 60 percent of the blood in the left ventricle is ejected. With some degree of heart damage due to a heart attack or other causes, the amount of blood ejected may be only 30 percent or 40 percent. When the left ventricle is significantly damaged, only 20 percent or even less may be ejected.
electrocardiogram: Also called an ECG or EKG. A recording of the heart's electrical activity. EKG is a historical spelling used because much of the original work on the electrocardiogram was done in Holland.
electrophysiologic study: A mapping out of the heart's electrical conduction system, done with special catheters that are passed through the bloodstream to the heart.
embolectomy: A surgical procedure in which an embolus is removed from the bloodstream.
embolism: The complete blocking or partial blocking of a blood vessel by an embolus.
embolus: An object (usually a blood clot) traveling through the bloodstream that should not be in the bloodstream. It frequently blocks off a blood vessel.
endarterectomy: A surgical procedure in which atherosclerotic material in an artery is removed and the artery is either sewn back together or a patch is placed over the surgical incision.
endocardium: The inner lining of the heart.
endothelium: The inner lining of the blood vessel.
epicardium: The outer lining of the heart. It is in contact with the pericardium.
erythrocyte: A red blood cell that contains hemoglobin. Its main function is to carry oxygen through the bloodstream.
etiology: The study of the cause or origin of a problem, usually a disease. Also the factor causing the problem.
excision: Surgical removal of a piece of tissue.
exercise stress test: A test during which a patient is connected to an electrocardiogram, or possibly other types of monitoring machines, and asked to walk on a treadmill or possibly pedal a stationary bicycle while being monitored.
extracorporeal circulation: Process in which the blood is routed outside of the body and then back into the body. It is usually done with a machine, such as a heart-lung machine.
femoral arteries: The main arteries in the upper portion of the leg.
fibrillation: A chaotic beating pattern of the heart.
fluoroscope: A type of x-ray device that enables a physician to see images, such as the heart beating, as they are actually happening as opposed to a one-time picture.
foramen ovale: A hole between the left and the right atrium in the atrial septum present in the fetus. If it remains open after birth, it is called a patent foramen ovale.
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