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Medical TermDescription
-cardiacondition of the heart
-emiacondition of the blood
-rrhagebursting forth
-stenosisabnormal narrowing
ACE InhibitorDrug that lowers BP by inhibiting angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) allowing increased blood flow
anemiaBlood lacks enough erythrocytes (RBC) or hemoglobin.
aneurysmA sac-like dilatation of a blood vessel wall. It indicates a weak spot in the wall which may rupture.
angi/oblood or lymph vessel
angina pectorisChest pain, pressure, or squeezing, often due to ischemia of the heart muscle.
angiographyAn x-ray study of blood vessels after injection of a contrast medium.
angioplastyRepair of a blood vessel such as widening a narrowed artery or vein. This procedure is normally performed using catheterization.
angiostenosisAbnormal narrowing of a blood vessel.
anticoagulantsAgents that slow coagulation and prevent blood clotting.
aortaThe main trunk of the systemic arteries originating at the heart's left ventricle.
aortic aneurysmAn abnormal balloon or sac-like dilatation in the aortic wall.
aortic coarctationA congenital heart abnormality where the aorta is narrowed.
aortic stenosisNarrowing of the aortic valve opening, reducing outflow from the left ventricle into the aorta.
aortic valveThe valve between the left ventricle and the aorta. It prevents back flow of blood into the left ventricle.
aortic valve regurgitationBack flow of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle.
aplastic anemiaA condition in which bone marrow doesn't produce sufficient blood elements.
arrhythmiaAbnormal heartbeat rhythm.
arterial blood gasesA test that measures the levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity (pH) in the blood. Some blood gases devices make additional measurements available.
arteriesThe vessels carrying blood away from the heart.
arteriol/osmall artery
arteriosclerosisThickening and stiffening of arterial walls.
arteriostenosisNarrowing of arterial walls.
asystoleComplete absence of cardiac output and electrical activity in the heart.
ather/oplaque, soft fatty deposit
atheromaA thickening and loss of elasticity of arterial walls due to plaque deposits. Also called atherosclerosis.
atherosclerosisA thickening and loss of elasticity of arterial walls due to plaque deposits.
atriaThe upper chambers of the heart which receive blood flow from the body.
atrial fibrillationAbnormal cardiac rhythm characterized by rapid, uncoordinated firing of electrical impulses in the atria. Increases risk of stroke and heart disease.
atrial flutterA very rapid, irregular heart rhythm. A common form of tachyarrhythmia.
atrioventricular nodeA small group of specialized muscle fibers located on the floor of the right atrium. It regulates electrical signals to the ventricles, preventing rapid conduction and ensuring that the atria have emptied.
bacterial endocarditisInflammation of the heart's lining or valves caused by bacteria in the bloodstream.
basophilsGranular leukocytes which stain blue-black with basic dyes. Active in inflammatory responses.
beta blockerDrugs that slow heart rate and reduce pumping force. Used to treat high blood pressure, angina, heart failure, migraines.
bloodThe body fluid that circulates in the vascular system. Whole blood in comprised of blood cells suspended in a liquid medium (plasma).
blood pressurePressure of the blood on the arteries, veins and chambers of the heart.
bradycardiaCardiac arrhythmias that are characterized by abnormally slow heart rate, usually below 50 beats per minute in adults.
bundle branch blockA type of heart block where the electrical signals to the ventricles are interrupted at the Bundle of HIS, preventing the simultaneous depolarization of the two ventricles.
bundle of HisCells that conduct electrical impulses from the atrioventricular node to the ventricles.
calcium channel blockersA class of drugs that inhibit calcium influx through cellular membranes. Used to reduce cardiac workload to treat hypertension or angina.
capillariesThe minute blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells. They connect the arterioles and venules.
cardiacOf or pertaining to the heart.
cardiac catheterizationA diagnostic procedure for creating an angiogram using a contrast agent. Also used for treating blocked arteries.
cardiologyThe study of the heart, its physiology, and its functions.
cardiomegalyAn enlargement of the heart. Multiple causes.
cardiomyopathyDisease of the heart muscle. Can be congenital, or acquired from infections, alcoholism, thyroid disease, toxic drugs.
cardiovascular systemThe heart and the blood vessels by which blood is pumped and circulated through the body.
carditisInflammation of the heart. Three types are pericarditis (pericardium), myocarditis (heart muscle) and endocarditis (endocardium).
carotid arteriesThe two major arteries of the neck that supply blood to the head; each artery has two branches, internal and external.
cholesterolThe principal sterol of the body. Contributes to cell structure and digestive bile. Helps produce vitamin D and some hormones.
congenital heart defectAn abnormality that is present at birth and can affect the structure and function of an infant's heart.
congestive heart failureThe heart isn't able to pump sufficient blood. Typical causes are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
coron/oencircle, crown
coronary arterySupplies blood to the heart muscles from the aorta.
coronary artery bypassSurgical procedure which uses a healthy blood vessel segment, such as a vein, to bypass a blocked section of a coronary artery.
coronary artery diseaseReduced blood flow through the coronary arteries, resulting in chest pain and heart damage.
coronary thrombosisCoagulation of blood in the coronary arteries. Can lead to myocardial infarction.
coumadinMedication to treat blood clots and prevent new clots from forming. Commonly used for chronic atrial fibrillation.
defibrillationUse of an electronic device to give an electric shock to the heart to reestablish normal cardiac rhythm.
diastolePart of the heart rhythm when the ventricles passively relax and refill with blood.
diastolic blood pressureAtrial blood pressure during diastole when the heart is resting. The second number in a blood pressure reading.
digitalisMedicines that strengthen heart contraction and to slow heart rates, particularly for atrial fibrillation.
diureticsMedication that promote the excretion of urine, decreasing fluids in the blood vessels and reducing blood pressure. Also known as water pills.
ectopic beatsHeartbeat electrical impulses generated from cardiac locations other than the SA node.
electrocardiogramA recording of the electrical activity of the heart. Within each heartbeat, electrical waves travel through the heart. For a normally functioning heart, the P wave indicates atrial contraction, then after a short pause, the QRS complex indicates ventricular contraction and then a T wave marks the relaxation of the ventricles. EKGs are recorded on a chart paper, displayed on a monitor or digitally captured.
embolismA blood vessel blockage by a blood clot or other undissolved material in the bloodstream.
endarterectomyA surgical procedure to remove the plaque material in the lining of an artery.
endarterialRelating to the interior lining of the artery.
endocardi/oendocardium (inner lining of the heart)
endocarditisInflammation of the inner lining of the heart chamber and valves. Usually caused by bacterial infection.
endocardiumThe innermost layer of the heart, consisting of endothelial cells.
eosinophilsA type of white blood cell. A granulocyte often increased with allergies and/or parasite infections.
epicardiumThe inner layer of the pericardium, covering the heart.
erythrocyt/ored blood cell
erythrocytesCells that contains hemoglobin and that can transport oxygen to body tissues. Commonly called red blood cells.
fibrinogenA blood plasma protein produced by the liver. It is one of many coagulation factors responsible for normal blood clotting.
heartThe hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.
hemangiomaA birthmark that commonly appears as a bright red nodule of blood vessels in the skin. Grows during the first year of life and then recedes over time. Also called a strawberry mark.
hematologyThe medical specialty focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of blood diseases.
hemochromatosisA disorder of iron metabolism where the body absorbs too much iron. Treatment is required to avoid organ damage. A genetic disorder. 8% of population is a carrier.
hemoglobinsThe oxygen-carrying proteins of erythrocytes (red blood cells).
hemorrhageBleeding or escape of blood from a vessel. Bleeding can occur externally or internally to the body.
hemostasisThe complex body process which spontaneously stops hemorrhages. This includes vessel contraction and blood adhesion, aggregation and coagulation.
high density lipoproteinCholesterol known as HDL that removes harmful cholesterol, reducing risk of heart problems.
holter monitorA device that continuously records EKGs for hours or a few days, used to diagnose abnormal cardiac rhythms.
hyperlipidemiaConditions with excess lipids (fats) in the blood.
hypertensionPersistently high systemic arterial blood pressure.
hyponatremiaInsufficient sodium levels in the blood. Can be caused by loss of sodium or by increased and excessive body fluids.
hypoperfusionAbnormally low blood flow through an organ.
hypotensionAbnormally low blood pressure that can result in inadequate blood flow to the brain and other organs.
infarctionTissue death due to lack of oxygen
ischemiaA hypoperfusion of blood through an organ or tissue caused by a obstruction of blood vessels.
ischemic heart diseaseRecurring chest pain or discomfort when a part of the heart does not receive enough blood. Often triggered by exertion or excitement.
leukemiaCancer of the blood. The bone marrow then produces abnormal white blood cells which do not function properly.
low density lipoproteinCholesterol that collects on blood vessel walls, increasing risk of heart problems.
lymphocytesWhite blood cells that help determine the body's immune response to infectious microorganisms.
megaloblastic anemiaA blood disorder in which the number of red blood cells is too low due to abnormally large red blood cell size. Can also be called vitamin B-12 or folate deficiency anemia.
megaloblastsRed blood cell precursors that are abnormally large and dysfunctional. Found in patients with pernicious anemia.
mitral valveThe valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart.
mitral valve prolapseAbnormal protrusion of mitral valve leaflets in the left atria during systole. Results in blood backflow, which causes systolic murmurs, arrhythmia and mitral valve insufficiency.
mitral valve stenosisNarrowing of the passage through the mitral value. Caused by fibrosis and calcinosis. Rheumatic fever is a primary cause.
monocytesLarge, phagocytic mononuclear leukocytes. Monocytes help other white blood cells remove dead or damaged tissues, attack cancer cells and regulate immunity response. Produced in the bone marrow
myelodysplastic syndromesA group of cancers in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow fail to mature and become healthy.
myocardi/omyocardium (heart muscle)
myocardial infarctionPartial death of heart tissue caused by an obstructed blood supply. Commonly called "heart attack".
myocardial ischemiaA disorder of cardiac function caused by insufficient blood flow to the muscle tissue of the heart.
myocarditisInflammation of the heart muscle. Caused by a wide range of infections and other problems.
myocardiumThe heart muscle. Its contractions pump blood from heart to the lungs and systemic circulatory system.
neutrophilsA type of white blood cell that is an early responder to infections.
nitroglycerinA vasodilator which relieves angina pectoris.
occlusionThe blockage of a blood vessel.
p waveMarks atrial depolarization. In a normal EKG, it precedes the QRS complex.
palpationUse of fingers with light pressure as part of a physical exam.
paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardiaA very rapid heartbeat that occurs sporadically. Usually lasts from a few seconds to several hours.
pericardial effusionFluid accumulation within the pericardium. Severe cases can lead to cardiac tamponade.
pericardial fluidWatery fluid produced in the serous and visceral pericardium surrounding the surface of the heart
pericardial friction rubAn extra heart sound that resembles squeaky leather. May be heard in pericarditis.
pericarditisInflammation of the pericardium, caused by infection, injury, or drugs.
pericardiumA thin layered sac enclosing the heart. Fluid between the layers lubricates the constantly moving surfaces.
pernicious anemiaVitamin B12 deficiency anemia. A type of megaloblastic anemia.
phlebitisInflammation of a vein, commonly a vein in the leg.
phlebographyAn invasive imaging study of leg veins with a contrast agent injects using a catheter. Phlebography is the most accurate test for detecting deep vein thrombosis.
plaqueFatty deposits formed on the walls of arteries.
plasmaThe part of blood which is not blood cells. Blood plasma also contains glucose and other dissolved nutrients. It also helps blood clot.
plateletsPart of blood that help stop bleeding by clumping and clotting blood vessel injuries.
polycythemiaAbnormal increase in the aggregate red cell mass of the blood.
presby/oold age
pulmonary arteryThe short wide vessel that moves blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
pulmonary circulationThe circulation of the blood to and through the lungs
pulmonary valveThe heart valve at the intersection of the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
pulmonary valve regurgitationBack flow of blood from the pulmonary artery into the right ventricular due to a leaky pulmonary valve.
pulmonary valve stenosisThe pathologic narrowing of the pulmonary valve opening. Limits blood flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery.
pulmonary veinsThe veins that return the oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart.
purkinje fibersCardiac muscle fibers that conduct the cardiac impulse from the atrioventricular node to the ventricles causing them to contract.
PVCpremature ventricular contraction
qrs complexA segment of an EKG tracing representing ventricular depolarization.
restenosisThe recurrence of stenosis in an artery after previous treatment.
rh factorA type of protein on the surface of red blood cells. Most people who have the Rh factor are Rh-positive. Those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh-negative.
sepsisA serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection that triggers widespread inflammation. When sepsis is accompanied by hypotension despite adequate fluid infusion, it is called septic shock.
septicemiaA serious bacterial bloodstream infection. It’s also known as bacteremia, or blood poisoning.
ser/oblood serum
serumBlood plasma after the removal of clotting proteins.
sickle cell anemiaAn inherited form of anemia where red blood cells become rigid, sticky and shaped like sickles. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow to parts of the body.
sinoatrial blockThe electrical impulse from the sinoatrial node is inhibited or completely blocked before it reaches the atrium.
sinoatrial nodeThe small mass of modified cardiac muscle fibers located in the upper part of the right atrium. Contraction impulses are generated at the SA node and spread over the atrium, then transmitted by the Bundle of HIS to the ventricles.
sphygmomanometerDevice for measuring arterial blood pressure. Includes an inflatable cuff, inflating bulb and a gauge showing the blood pressure.
stentsA small mesh tube used to treat narrow or weak arteries.
strokeA group of pathological conditions characterized by sudden, non-convulsive loss of neurological function due to brain ischemia or intracranial hemorrhages. It is both common and deadly.
sudden cardiac arrestA sudden and unexpected cessation of cardiac function due to electrical malfunction. Reversible if immediately treated.
sudden cardiac deathSudden, unexpected death caused by loss of cardiac function.
syncopeFainting. Loss of consciousness due to diminished blood flow to the brain.
systemic circulationThe circulation of the blood to all parts of the body except the lungs.
systolePeriod of heart contraction when blood is surging from the heart into the systemic circulatory system and the lungs.
systolic blood pressureArterial blood pressure during heart contraction. In blood pressure readings, it is the first number.
systolic murmursHeart murmurs which occur during systole. They are heard between the first and the second heart sounds.
t waveThe positive deflection after each QRS complex. It indicates ventricular repolarization.
tachycardiaAbnormally rapid heartbeat, usually over 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by an irregular rhythm is called tachyarrhythmia.
thalassemiaAn inherited blood disorder characterized by an abnormal form of hemoglobin.
thromb/oblood clot
thrombocytesPlatelets. A blood component helps to stop bleeding by clumping and clotting blood vessel injuries.
thrombocytopeniaA low level of blood platelets. Platelet count < 150,000/ml
thrombocytosisHigh blood platelet count. Platelet count > 450,000/ml
thrombosisThe formation and development of a blood clot in a blood vessel.
tricuspid valveThe heart valve located between the right atrium and right ventricle.
tricuspid valve regurgitationBack flow of blood from the right ventricle to the right atrium.
valsalva maneuverForced expiratory effort against a closed windpipe, impeding the return of venous blood to the heart.
varicose veinsEnlarged, twisted veins.
vascularPertaining to blood vessels.
vasculitisInflammation of a blood vessel.
vasoconstrictorDrugs used to cause constriction of the blood vessels.
vasodilatorDrugs used to cause dilation of the blood vessels.
veinsThe vessels carrying blood away from the capillary beds.
venae cavaeThe two venous trunks which returns blood to the heart. Inferior venae cavae receives blood from the lower body while superior venae cavae returns blood from the upper body..
venous insufficiencyImpaired venous blood flow or venous return (venous stasis), usually caused by inadequate venous valves. Venous insufficiency often occurs in the legs.
ventriclesThe two large heart chambers that receive blood from the atria and pump it out to the systemic and pulmonary circulatory systems.
ventricular fibrillationThe uncoordinated, rapid firing of electrical impulses (400-600/min) in the ventricles. This ventricular quivering prevents cardiac output. Can results in unconsciousness and death if not immediately treated.
ventricular flutterRapid, unstable ventricular tachycardia (150-300 beats/min) with a large sine-wave appearance. If untreated, ventricular flutter typically progresses to ventricular fibrillation.
ventricular tachycardiaFast but regular heart rhythm originating in the ventricles. Often caused by heart disease, but may also occur in young people. Some medications and nonprescription decongestants can trigger ventricular tachycardia.
venul/ovenule (small vein in lungs)

Authors and Reviewers

Authored by Dr. Barbara A. Erickson
Medically reviewed by Dr. Jonathan Keroes, MD
Last Update: 12/18/2022
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