Abdominal aorta - The portion of the aorta in the abdomen.
Aneurysm - A sac-like protrusion from a blood vessel or the heart, resulting from a weakening of the vessel wall or heart muscle.
Angina or angina pectoris - Chest pain that occurs when diseased blood vessels restrict blood flow to the heart.
Angiography - Angiography is an x-ray technique where dye is injected into the chambers of your heart or the arteries that lead to your heart (the coronary arteries). The test lets doctors measure the blood flow and blood pressure in the heart chambers and see if the coronary arteries are blocked.
Angioplasty - A nonsurgical technique for treating diseased arteries by temporarily inflating a tiny balloon inside an artery.
Antiarrhythmics - Medicines that are used to treat patients who have irregular heart rhythms.
Anticoagulant - Any medicine that keeps blood from clotting; a blood thinner.
Antihypertensive - Any medicine or other therapy that lowers blood pressure.
Aorta - The largest and main artery in the body that carries oxygen rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Aortic valve - The valve that regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta.
Arrhythmia (or dysrhythmia) - An abnormal heartbeat.
Artery – A blood vessel that carries oxygen rich blood.
Ascending aorta - The first portion of the aorta, emerging from the heart's left ventricle.
Atherosclerosis - A disease process that leads to the buildup of a waxy substance, called plaque, inside blood vessels.
Atrium (right and left) - The two upper chambers of the heart (together referred to as atria).
Cardiac catheterization - A procedure that involves inserting a fine, hollow tube (catheter) into an artery, usually in the groin area, and passing the tube into the heart. Often used along with angiography and other procedures, cardiac catheterization has become a prime tool for visualizing the heart and blood vessels and diagnosing and treating heart disease.
Cholesterol – A form of fat that is necessary for normal body function, but can also cause heart disease if there is too much. It is found in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Coronary arteries - Two arteries arising from the aorta that arch down over the top of the heart and divide into branches. They provide blood to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery bypass (CAB) - Surgical rerouting of blood around a diseased vessel that supplies the heart by grafting either a piece of vein from the leg or the artery from under the breastbone.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) - A narrowing of the inside diameter of arteries that supply the heart with blood. The condition results from a buildup of plaque and greatly increases the risk of a heart attack.
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) - A disease in which the body doesn't produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is needed to convert sugar and starch into the energy needed in daily life.
Dissecting aneurysm - A condition in which the layers of an artery separate or are torn, causing blood to flow between the layers. Dissecting aneurysms usually happen in the aorta, which is the large vessel that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
Diuretic - A drug that lowers blood pressure by causing fluid loss; promotes urine production.
Doppler ultrasound - A technology that uses sound waves to assess blood flow within the heart and blood vessels and to identify leaking valves.
Echocardiography - A method of studying the heart's structure and function by analyzing sound waves bounced off the heart and recorded by an electronic sensor placed on the chest. A computer processes the information to produce a one-, two- or three-dimensional moving picture that shows how the heart and heart valves are functioning.
Edema – Excess fluid in body tissues, an example is ankle swelling.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – A recording of the electrical activity in the heart. Changes from the normal pattern may indicate a heart attack.
Exercise stress test - A common test for diagnosing coronary artery disease, especially in patients who have symptoms of heart disease. The test helps doctors assess blood flow through coronary arteries in response to exercise, usually walking, at varied speeds and for various lengths of time on a treadmill. A stress test may include use of electrocardiography, echocardiography, and injected radioactive substances. Also called exercise test, stress test, or treadmill test.
General Anesthetic – Medication used to put a person to sleep during surgery.
Heart Chambers – Four hollow areas within the heart that contain blood. The upper chambers are called atria. The lower chambers the ventricles.
Heart Lung Machine (also called a bypass machine) - A machine that moves blood around the body and supplies it with oxygen while the heart is stopped for surgery.
Heart attack - Death of, or damage to, part of the heart muscle due to an insufficient blood supply.
Holter monitor - A portable device for recording heartbeats over a period of 24 hours or more.
Hypertension – High blood pressure.
Ischemia - Decreased blood flow to an organ, usually due to constriction or obstruction of an artery.
Ischemic heart disease - Also called coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease, this term is applied to heart problems caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries, thereby causing a decreased blood supply to the heart.
IV catheter – A small needle with a hollow tube inserted into a vein. It is used to give medications or fluids.
Local anesthetic – A medication given to dull pain sensation in a particular area.
Maze surgery - A type of heart surgery that is used to treat atrial fibrillation by creating a surgical "maze" of new electrical pathways to let electrical impulses travel easily through the heart. Also called the Maze procedure.
Mitral stenosis - A narrowing of the mitral valve, which controls blood flow from the heart's upper left chamber (the left atrium) to its lower left chamber (the left ventricle). May result from an inherited (congenital) problem or from rheumatic fever.
Mitral valve - The structure that controls blood flow between the heart's left atrium (upper chamber) and left ventricle (lower chamber).
Myocardial infarction - A heart attack. The damage or death of an area of the heart muscle (myocardium) resulting from a blocked blood supply to the area. The affected tissue dies, injuring the heart.
Open-heart surgery - An operation in which the chest and heart are opened surgically while the bloodstream is diverted through a heart-lung (cardiopulmonary perfusion) machine.
Pacemaker - A surgically implanted electronic device used to give the heart electrical stimulation when the natural electric circuit has failed. A permanent pacemaker is usually inserted in the catheterization lab under local anesthesia.
Palpitation - An uncomfortable sensation within the chest caused by an irregular heartbeat.
Pericarditis - Inflammation of the outer membrane surrounding the heart. When pericarditis occurs, the amount of fluid between the two layers of the pericardium increases. This increased fluid presses on the heart and restricts its pumping action.
Pericardiocentesis - A diagnostic procedure where a needle is used to withdraw fluid from the sac or membrane surrounding the heart (pericardium).
Pericardium - The outer fibrous sac that surrounds the heart.
Plaque - A deposit of fatty (and other) substances that can build up in the inner lining of the artery wall; it is characteristic of atherosclerosis.
Platelets – A small blood cell needed for normal clotting of the blood.
Sternotomy – An incision made in the center of the chest that allows access to the heart.
Sternum (also called the breastbone) - it protects the heart and other internal organs.
Thallium stress test – A test done at rest or with exercise where a low dose of the radioactive material, Thallium is injected through a vein. A scan or x-ray study, follows the path of radioactive material carried by the blood into heart muscle. Damaged or dead muscle can be defined, as can areas of heart muscle that are not adequately supplied with blood (oxygen) due to narrowing in an artery.
Thoracotomy – An incision made on the side of the chest that allows access to the heart or lungs.
Transesophageal echocardiography - A diagnostic test that analyzes sound waves bounced off the heart. The sound waves are sent through a tube-like device inserted in the mouth and passed down the esophagus (food pipe), which ends near the heart. This technique is useful in studying patients whose heart and vessels, for various reasons, are difficult to assess with standard echocardiography.
Triglyceride - The most common fatty substance found in the blood; normally stored as an energy source in fat tissue. High triglyceride levels may thicken the blood and make a person more susceptible to clot formation. High triglyceride levels tend to accompany high cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity.
Ultrasound – A probe that uses high-frequency sound vibrations or waves that passes into the body and are reflected back to create an image of the internal organs. Used in medical diagnosis.
Valve replacement - An operation to replace a heart valve that is either blocking normal blood flow or causing blood to leak backward into the heart (regurgitation). A recording of the electrical activity in the heart. Changes from the normal pattern may indicate a heart attack.