Glossary Of Cardiovascular Terms
- Angina: symptoms that occur when the heart muscle can’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. Often appears as pressure, tightness, aching, or pain in the chest, arm, neck, or jaw.
- Angiogram: a special x-ray of a blood vessel.
- Aorta: the body’s largest artery. It carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- Arrhythmia: an abnormal heartbeat.
- Arteriosclerosis: when artery walls thicken and lose elasticity. Sometimes called “hardening of the arteries.”
- Artery: a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body.
- Atherosclerosis: the buildup of plaque within artery walls.
- Atria (singular: atrium): the heart’s two upper chambers. They receive blood from the lungs and body.
- Balloon angioplasty: a procedure that uses a balloon-tipped catheter to open an artery narrowed or blocked by plaque.
- Blood (serum) cholesterol: a fatty substance produced by the body and carried in the blood. Can build up within artery walls as plaque.
- Blood pressure: a measurement indicating the force of blood as it presses against artery walls while moving through vessels.
- Blood vessels: tubes that carry blood throughout the body. Arteries and veins are blood vessels.
- Bypass: a new pathway for blood flow.
- CABG (pronounced “cabbage”): another term for coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
- Cardiomyopathy: weakening of, or structural change in, the heart muscle that reduces the heart’s ability to pump.
- Catheter: a long, thin, flexible plastic tube.
- Coronary arteries: blood vessels that wrap around the heart and supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood.
- Coronary artery disease: blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.
- Diastolic pressure: the pressure of blood against the inside of artery walls between heartbeats. Appears as the bottom number in a blood pressure measurement.
- Electrocardiogram: a test that records the way electrical signals move through the heart. Often called an ECG or EKG.
- Heart attack: an event that occurs when oxygen-rich blood can’t get to part of the heart muscle. Can cause permanent damage.
- Hypertension: another word for “high blood pressure.”
- Myocardial infarction: death of heart muscle tissue. Also known as a heart attack.
- Plaque: a deposit of fatty material (including cholesterol) within artery walls.
- Pulmonary artery: the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs to get oxygen.
- Stenosis: the narrowing of an artery, often caused by plaque buildup.
- Stroke: a blockage or rupture in a blood vessel that cuts off blood flow to part of the brain. May cause brain damage. Also known as a brain attack or CVA (cerebrovascular accident).
- Systolic pressure: the pressure of blood against the inside of artery walls during a heartbeat (when the heart pumps). Appears as the top number in a blood pressure measurement.
- Ultrasound: a test that uses sound waves to create images of structures inside the body.
- Valves: “doorways” that open and close to let blood move and prevent backflow of blood. There are valves between the heart’s chambers.
- Vein: a blood vessel that carries blood from the body back to the heart.
- Ventricles: the heart’s two lower chambers. They pump blood to the body and lungs.