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Medical TermDescription
abdominal aortaThe part of the descending aorta passing through the diaphragm into the abdomen.
abo blood groupA major blood classification system based on the presence or absence of two antigens, A and B. Type O occurs when neither A nor B is present and AB when both are present. A and B are genetic factors that determine the presence of enzymes for the synthesis of certain glycoproteins mainly in the red cell membrane.
acanthocytesErythrocytes with spiny projections giving the cell a thorny appearance.
accelerated idioventricular rhythmA type of automatic, not reentrant, ectopic ventricular rhythm with episodes lasting from a few seconds to a minute. The ventricular rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute.
acebutololA beta blocker drug used to treat high blood pressure, irregular rhythms and angina pectoris.
adams-stokes syndromeRecurring fainting spells caused by incomplete heart block.
advanced cardiac life supportThe use of sophisticated methods and equipment to treat cardiopulmonary arrest. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) includes the use of specialized equipment to maintain the airway, early defibrillation and pharmacological therapy.
afibrinogenemiaA deficiency or absence of fibrinogen in the blood.
alprostadilA potent vasodilator agent that increases peripheral blood flow.
anacrotismA secondary notch in the pulse curve, obtained in a pulse tracing.
anaerobicTaking place without oxygen.
angioscopeAn endoscope used for viewing the interior of blood vessels.
angiotensinA family of peptides in the blood that causes vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure.
ankle brachial indexThe ankle-arm index. This is the ratio of the higher of the two ankle systolic blood pressures divided by the higher of the two arm systolic pressures. It is a predictor of peripheral arterial disease.
antifibrinolyticPreventing the breakdown of a blood clot or thrombus.
antihypertensiveDrugs used to reduce high blood pressure.
arteriolesThe smallest divisions of the arteries located between the muscular arteries and the capillaries.
arteriolosclerosisThickening of the walls of small arteries or arterioles.
arteritisinflammation of one or more arteries.
atherectomyEndovascular procedure for removing atheromatous plaque by a cutting or rotating catheter.
atorvastatinA drug used to reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
avascularAn area of the body lacking adequate blood vessels or blood supply.
bacteremiaThe presence of bacteria in the blood. Fever, chills, tachycardia, and tachypnea are common manifestations of bacteremia.
baroreceptorOne of the blood pressure sensitive nerve ending in heart's atria, aorta and the carotid sinuses.
blood banksCenters for collecting, characterizing and storing human blood.
blood cellAny of the cells found in blood. This includes erythrocytes (red cells), leukocytes (white cells) and thrombocytes (platelets).
blood clotA semisolid mass formed by blood coagulation. Thrombus.
blood coagulationThe process of the interaction of blood coagulation factors that results in an insoluble fibrin clot.
blood countThe number of red or white blood cells in a specified volume of blood.
blood groupClassification of blood based upon antigens on the surface of the red cell. Many blood grouping systems have been developed. The ABO system is one of the most important.
blood plasmaThe liquid part of the blood, free of formed elements and particles.
blood transfusionThe administration of whole blood or a blood component into the blood stream.
blood vesselsAny of the tubular vessels conveying the blood (arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins).
brachial arteryThe continuation of the axillary artery; it branches into the radial and ulnar arteries.
capillary fragilityThe susceptibility of capillaries, under conditions of increased stress, to rupture. Seen as bleeding under the skin.
cardiac tamponadeA dangerous compression of the heart by accumulated fluid (pericardial effusion) or blood in the pericardium surrounding the heart.
cardiopulmonary resuscitationAn emergency procedure for life support consisting of manual, external heart massage and artificial respiration.
cardiotoxinAn agent that has damaging effect on the heart.
cardiovascular diseaseA pathological condition involving the cardiovascular system including the heart, the blood vessels or the pericardium.
carotid bruitA murmur auscultated over the carotid artery on the neck. It can indicate arterial narrowing and an increased risk of stroke.
carotid stenosisNarrowing of any part of the carotid arteries, most often due to atherosclerotic plaque formation.
cavogramAn angiogram of the vena cava, inferior or superior.
celiac arteryThe arterial trunk that arises from the abdominal aorta and after a short course divides into the left gastric, common hepatic and splenic arteries.
central lineIV line inserted for continuous access to a central vein.
cerebrovascular disordersOne of several pathological conditions of impaired blood flow in the brain.
circle of willisA vascular network at the base of the brain.
circulationThe circuit of blood through the network of arteries and veins.
clotA soft, insoluble mass formed by blood or lymph.
coagulateTo change a liquid into a gel or solid.
dicroticA heartbeat with two separate peaks.
ebstein anomalyA congenital heart defect characterized by third and fourth heart sounds and a systolic murmur best heard at the tricuspid position. The tricuspid valve is displaced downward and the right atrium is usually enlarged.
echocardiographyA noninvasive diagnostic procedure that uses ultrasound to study to structure and motions of the heart and blood flow.
ejection clickA sharp clicking sound heard during cardiac auscultation.
ejection fractionThe portion of the total ventricular filling volume that is ejected during a heart beat.
elliptocytosisCondition of having an abnormal number of elliptical red cells in the blood.
embolectomyAn emergency surgical removal of an obstructing clot or foreign material.
endarteritisInflammation of the inner endothelial lining of an artery.
endocardialSituated or occurring within the heart.
endotheliumA layer of epithelium that lines the heart, blood vessels, lymph vessels and the serous cavities of the body.
endovascular proceduresWithin a blood vessel.
erythroblastA nucleated immature red blood cell found in bone marrow.
erythroidReddish color.
erythromelalgiaA rare peripheral arterial disorder occurring in middle aged patients characterized by severe burning pain, reddening, hyperalgesia and sweating of the extremities.
fibrinAn insoluble protein end product of blood coagulation, formed from fibrinogen by the action of thrombin.
gallopA third heart sound that resembles the sound of a galloping horse.
heart arrestCessation of heart beat.
hematocritThe percentage by volume of red blood cells in a given sample.
hemodynamicsThe forces involved in the movement of the blood through the cardiovascular system.
heparinAn endogenous, short-acting anticoagulant.
hydremiaAn excess of water in the blood.
hypernatremiaAn excess of sodium in the blood.
hyperphosphatemiaAbnormally high level of phosphates in the blood.
hypertriglyceridemiaA condition of elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood.
hypocalcemiaAbnormally low levels of calcium in the blood.
hypokalemiaAbnormally low potassium concentration in the blood.
hypovolemiaAn abnormally low volume of circulating blood.
iliac arteryEither of two large arteries originating from the abdominal aorta; they supply blood to the pelvis, abdominal wall and legs.
intracranial embolismBlocking of a blood vessel in the skull by an embolus which can be a thrombus or other undissolved material in the blood stream.
leukocyteA white blood cell.
leukocytosisAn abnormally large increase in the number of leukocytes in the blood.
microvesselsThe finer blood vessels of the vasculature that are generally less than 100 microns in internal diameter.
neovascularizationFormation of new blood vessels.
neutropeniaAbnormally decrease in the numbers of neutrophils in circulating blood.
normotensiveHaving normal blood pressure.
pericardiocentesisPuncture and aspiration of fluid from the pericardium.
periphlebitisInflammation of the tissues around a vein
phonocardiogramA waveform of heart sound amplitude over time, usually a few heartbeats.
pleocytosisA presence of an abnormally high number of cells in the cerebrospinal fluid.
profundaBlood vessels situated deep in the body tissues they supply.
pulseThe rhythmical expansion and contraction of an artery, caused by blood pumping from the heart.
pylethrombosisThrombosis of the portal vein.
reperfusionRestoration of blood supply to tissue which was ischemic.
semilunar valveEither the aortic valve or the pulmonary valve, each consisting of crescent-shaped cusps.
septal defectA hole in the septum of the heart, usually congenital.
simvastatinA statin used to treat high blood cholesterol levels.
spherocytesSmall, abnormal spherical red blood cells with more than the normal amount of hemoglobin.
spherocytosisA blood disorder characterized by the presence of small, sphere like red blood cells.
splenic arteryThe largest branch of the celiac trunk with distribution to the spleen, pancreas, stomach and greater omentum.
stasisA cessation or diminution of flow of blood or other fluids.
stress testA test to evaluate heart function by monitoring heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and EKG while the patient exercises with a treadmill or exercise bike.
stroke volumeThe amount of blood pumped out of one ventricle of the heart in one beat.
temporal arteriesArteries arising from the external carotid or the maxillary artery and distributing to the temporal region.
tetralogy of fallotTetralogy of Fallot is a rare congenital heart defect. It is a combination of four defects which result in oxygen-poor blood flow.
thrombectomySurgical removal of an obstructing clot or foreign material from a blood vessel at the point of its formation.
thrombolysisThe dissolution of a thrombus.
thrombolyticDissolving or breaking up a thrombus.
thrombophiliaA disorder of hemostasis in which there is a tendency for the occurrence of thrombosis.
torsades de pointesA form of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia that is characterized by heart rate between 200 and 250 beats per minute, and QRS complexes with changing amplitude and twisting of the points.
tourniquetA band for the compression of a blood vessel, used to stop bleeding or prevent spread of snake venom.
toxemiaThe presence of bacterial toxins in the blood. Also called blood poisoning.
transfusionThe transfer of blood from one person to another.
tricuspid valve stenosisThe narrowing of the tricuspid valve opening. Tricuspid valve stenosis is almost always due to rheumatic fever.
trigeminyA heart condition where an EKG can be grouped into three beat patterns.
vasoconstrictionNarrowing of blood vessels.
vasodilationWidening of blood vessels.
venous thrombosisThe formation or presence of a blood clot within a vein.

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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