Glossary of Terms


 Ablation - The use of high frequency radio waves directly on the electrical system of the heart. Ablation can be used to eliminate abnormal sites of electrical activity in the heart that may cause arrhythmias.

Acute Mitral Regurgitation - Acute mitral regurgitation occurs suddenly when the heart's mitral valve does not close properly.  This causes the blood to leak into the left atrium when the left ventricle contracts.

Acute Renal Arterial Thrombosis – A sudden condition brought on by a severe blockage of the artery.  This artery supplies blood to the kidney.

Angioplasty - T he use of a small balloon on the tip of a catheter inserted into a blood vessel to open up an area of blockage.

Aortic Aneurysm - A weakened and bulging area in the aorta, the major blood vessel that delivers blood to the body. The aorta extends from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen. Because the aorta is the body's main supplier of blood, an aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Aortic Insufficiency – A heart valve disease in which the aortic valve weakens.  This prevents the valve from closing tightly.  This condition leads to the backward flow of blood from the aorta into the left ventricle.

Arrhythmia – An arrhythmia is a disorder that produces abnormal heart rhythms when there is a change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses.

Arterial Insufficiency – Arterial insufficiency is inadequate blood flow through arteries affecting various parts of the body.  If the brain arteries are involved, it can cause symptoms of a stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation – A rapid heart rate causing the heart chambers to contract in a chaotic manner.

Artery - A blood vessel carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Atherosclerosis - A disease where blood flow in an artery is restricted by a plaque deposit. This build-up means that less oxygen and other nutrients are able to reach the organs supplied by that artery.

Atrial Septal Defect - Atrial septal defect occurs when the wall between the right and left atria does not close properly.  This is an abnormality of the upper chambers of the heart that are present at birth.

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Balloon - A small, inflatable balloon-like device on a catheter. The balloon is inflated in order to compress the plaque against the artery wall to create a larger opening.

Bradycardia - A heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute, considered a slow heart beat.


Capillaries - Tiny blood vessels between arteries and veins that distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body.

Cardiac Catheterization - A diagnostic procedure in which a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) is advanced from a vessel in the groin through the aorta and into the heart to create images of the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular - Pertaining to the heart and blood vessel (circulatory) system.

Cardioversion – A method to restore a rapid heart beat back to a more normal rhythmic pattern.

Carotid Artery - The major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

Catheter - A thin plastic tube used to provide access to small parts of the body such as arteries and other vessels.

Cerebral Thrombosis - The formation of a blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

Cholesterol - A waxy substance that occurs naturally in the human body, animal fats, and in dairy products and is transported in the blood. High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL) - Good cholesterol. It removes cholesterol from artery walls and protects against heart disease. Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL) - Bad cholesterol. It deposits on the walls of blood vessels, and can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Chronic Mitral Regurgitation – A long-term disorder that gradually gets worse. It occurs when the mitral valve that separates the left upper chamber of the heart from the left lower chamber does not close properly.

Circulatory System - Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels, and the circulation of blood.

Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan) - A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.

Culture-Negative Endocarditis - An infection and inflammation of the lining of a valve in the heart.

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Echocardiogram (EKG) – A test where sound waves are used to create a moving picture of the heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) – A test that records the electircal activity of the heart. It shows abnormal rhythms and detects heart muscle damage.

Electrophysiology - The study of electrical activity in the heart and how the electrical signals in the body relate to physiologic function.

Embolus - A clot or other obstruction brought by the blood from one vessel and forced into another.

Endarterectomy - A surgical technique whereby an artery is opened in order to facilitate the removal of plaque.

Endovascular Procedure- a percutaneous, minimally invasive procedure using a stent or a balloon or a stent graft.


Fibromuscular Dysplasia - An arterial occlusive disease in children or young adults caused by the abnormal formation of the smooth muscle cells in arteries during development.


Hypertension -Arterial disease in which chronic high blood pressure is the primary symptom. Abnormally high blood pressure .

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Intracardiac Electrophysiology Study (EPS) – Wire electrodes are placed within the heart to determine the characteristics of heart arrhythmias.

Implantable Cardioverter/Defibrillator (ICD) - A device that includes a pulse generator and one or more leads (a wire from the pulse generator inside the heart) that is surgically implanted. The device is responsible for passing an electric current through the heart.

Ischemia - A deficiency of blood supply to an area of tissue.


Lumen - The inner channel of the artery where blood flows.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Marfan Syndrome - A hereditary connective tissue disorder causing bone elongation and heart defects.

Mitral Stenosis – A narrowing or blockage of the opening of the mitral valve preventing proper blood flow from moving between the left atrium and ventricle.

Mitral Valve Prolapse – Mitral valve prolapse is a heart condition in which the valve that separates the left upper and lower chambers of the heart does not open and close properly.

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Occlusion - A complete obstruction of an artery.


Palpitations – A sensation of a rapid, irregular heartbeat.

Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) – A rapid heart rate that occurs from time to time.

 Percutaneous - Through the skin.

Peripheral Arterial Disease - A common disorder that occurs in the artery segments of the circulatory system (legs, pelvis, neck, and brain). The artery wall linings slowly become narrowed and clots form due to built-up cholesterol or plaque. Blockages in the heart and brain have the potential for death from heart attack and stroke.

Plaque - An accumulation of calcium, cell debris, fatty deposits, cholestrol and/or collagen in the arteries. This usually leads to a narrowing of the lumen.


Renal Vascular Disease: also called "renovascular disease;" includes problems with blood flow to the kidneys.

Renovascular Hypertension - A narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys. Renovascular hypertension is a form of secondary hypertension. Most forms of hypertension are considered "essential," and the cause is unknown. But a small number of high blood pressure patients have "secondary hypertension," which means an underlying disease is identified as the cause.

Restenosis - A recurrent narrowing of the artery due to scar tissue or new plaque build-up after correction of the original narrowing with surgery, angioplasty and/or stent placement.

Revascularization : Procedures to restore blood flow to an organ or an extremity.


Stenosis - Narrowing of the artery.

Stent - An expandable metal or alloy mesh tube that pushes open an artery in order to maintain healthy blood flow through the opened artery.

Stroke - Any disorder of the blood supply to the brain resulting in insufficient oxygen and nutrients with subsequent damage to brain tissue.

Stroke Secondary To Cardiogenic Embolism – Blood clots that develop in the heart and travel to the brain causing a lost of brain function.

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Tachycardia - Refers to a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, a fast heartbeat.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm - A localized expansion of the wall of the aorta. Thoracic aortic aneurysms are caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure (hypertension), or congenital disorders such as Marfan's syndrome.

Thrombus - A thickening of the blood leading to clot formation.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) - A stroke-like event that often clears up within 24 hours. Neurological symptoms may appear suddenly and can affect the ability to move or feel on one side of the body. Speech and vision can also be impaired along with sudden confusion and difficulty speaking.

Transluminal - Within the inner channel of the artery.


Ultrasound - A diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.


Varicose Vein - A vein that has become dilated, bulging and twisted.

Vascular spasm - A vascular spasm is a sudden, brief tightening of a blood vessel. Vascular spasms can temporarily reduce blood flow to tissues supplied by that vessel.

Veins - Blood vessels that carry the blood from the body back to the heart.

Vessels- The tube-like structures in the circulatory system that are responsible for circulating blood within the body. The three kinds of vessels are arteries, veins and lymphatics. Capillaries are the microscopic structures that connect arteries and veins at the tissues.

Ventricular Tachycardia - A rapid heart beat that begins within the ventricles.  It is characterized by three or more consecutive premature ventricular beats.


X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

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