Glossary

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amino acid:
        result of body's breakdown of protein, used for body recycling; excess is converted to energy or fat
angina:
        pressure or pain, mild to severe, in the chest area from blood-starved heart muscles
anxiety:
        feeling of tension or uneasiness, distress
aorta:
        largest artery, (about 1" / 2.5cm diameter) funnels blood from the heart (left ventricle) to smaller arteries
        to the rest of body.
arterioles:
        smallest arteries passing blood to capillaries
arterioclerosis:
        artery walls thicken and lose flexibility (see atherosclerosis), commonly called hardening of the arteries
atheroma:
        collection of fatty plaque in the arteries
atherosclerosis:
        a type of arteriosclerosis from fatty plaque deposits on artery walls that block the flow of blood
atrium (atria):
        upper chamber of the heart receiving blood from the body and lungs and passing it to the ventricles

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blood pressure:
measured force on the walls of the arteries as it is pumped from the heart. (see systolic, diastolic)
bradycardia:
too low heart beat rate, usually less than 60
bruit:
a murmur caused by a narrowed blood vessel
capillaries:
smallest branches of blood vessels, whose thin wall oxygen and carbon dioxide pass through
cardiac arrest:
stopped heart beat, usually with loss of consciousness; usually from ventricular fibrillation
cardiologist/cardiology:
physician/study of the heart and blood vessels, and related disorders and treatments
Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR):
restoration of blood circulation to prevent death and brain damage, using mouth-to-mouth breathing and heart muscle compression
cardiovascular:
concerned with the heart and blood vessels
catheter:
flexible tube inserted in blood vessels or body duct to deliver medication, drain fluids, diagnose or repair
cerebral embolism:
a stroke caused by a clot traveling to the brain, usually originating elsewhere
cerebral thrombosis:
a stroke caused by a clot in an artery leading to the brain
cholesterol:
a white, fatty matter manufactured by the body; essential for cells, hormone production and other functions; only found in animals and their by products. High levels lead to plaque formations and to coronary heart disease
collateral circulation:
blood vessels that join to take over some of the circulation of blocked vessels; natural by-pass congestive heart failure: decline of heart's ability to pump, causing fluid accumulation in lungs, stomach and legs
coronary arteries:
vessels supplying blood to the heart's muscles; name comes from corona, Latin for crown
coronary by-pass surgery:
procedure to graft new vessels around blocked arteries to increase flow to heart's muscles
coronary heart disease:
decreased blood flow to the heart's muscles from narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries
cyanosis:
poorly oxygenated blood causing blue skin in lips and fingernails

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diabetes:
inability of the body to process glucose (blood sugar); in Type I, juvenile onset, no insulin is produced, in Type II, adult onset, insulin is not effectively utilized
diastolic:
relaxing phase of the heartbeat, second number of blood pressure measurement (systolic/diastolic)
diuretic:
matter that rids the body of excess water and salts
edema:
swelling of parts of the body due to fluid retention
electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG):
chart of heart's electrical impulses; used as a diagnostic tool
embolism (embolus):
a clot or particle carried in the bloodstream that blocks the passage of blood
endocardium:
the inner lining of the heart
fiber:
roughage; type of carbohydrate not broken down in digestion; rarely found in animal products
fibrin:
protein-based fibers that form clots to block wounds
glucose:
a sugar found in many foods; the body's primary fuel
heart attack (myocardial infarction):
death of heart muscle resulting from reduction or stoppage of blood flow
hemoglobin:
substance found in red blood cells; combines with oxygen and carries it to cells
HDL (high density lipoproteins):
carry cholesterol away from artery walls and help prevent it from depositing there
hormones:
chemicals which control almost every body function, released into the blood by endocrine glands
hyperglycemia:
very high level of glucose (blood sugar)
hypercholestemia:
very high level of cholesterol
hypertension:
medical name for high blood pressure
hypertrophy:
enlarged muscle due to increased work load
hypoglycemia:
very low level of glucose (blood sugar), most often caused by an overdose of insulin by diabetics
hypoxia:
lack of sufficient oxygen in body tissue
inferior vena cava:
major vein in the lower body that carries oxygen depleted blood to the heart
invasive techniques/procedures:
diagnosis or treatment that enters the body by surgery, catheter or needle puncture
ischemia:
lack of oxygen in an organ from artery blockage

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LDL (low density lipoproteins):
carry cholesterol from the liver to body cells; often called bad cholesterol
lipoproteins:
carry cholesterol and other lipids in the body
metabolism:
chemical changes and physical processes to utilize nutrients and needed to sustain life
monosaturated fats:
fatty acids capable of accepting more hydrogen atoms; remain liquid or soft at room temperature
multivessel disease:
when more than one vein or artery (usually coronary) is impaired or blocked
myocardial infarction:
see heart attack
myocardium:
heart tissue
noninvasive procedure/technique:
does not require surgery, insertion of a catheter or needle puncture
open heart surgery:
when the heart's protective sac is opened and a heart-lung machine takes over circulation
palliative therapy:
treatment to relieve symptoms without attempting to cure the cause
pericarditis:
inflammation of the heart's protective sac
pericardium:
Heart's outer protective sac (membrane); fluid between this sac and the heart lubricates as it pumps
phlebitis:
inflammation of veins, usually in the legs
plaque:
deposits on the inner lining of arteries built up from cholesterol, fats, calcium and other waste in the blood
platelets:
small cells in the blood which allow clotting
polyunsaturated fats:
fatty acids holding the fewest hydrogen atoms; liquid at rooms temperature
pulmonary embolism:
blockage of the pulmonary artery or its branches by a clot (embolus)
pulmonary stenosis:
partial or full blockage of the pulmonary artery or valve
pulse:
movement of a blood vessel coinciding with the heart beat
red blood cells:
cells with hemoglobin that carry oxygen
restenosis:
return of blood vessel blockages after treatment
renin:
substance causes blood vessels to contract, regulating blood pressure, made primarily in the kidneys
risk factor:
any behavior or condition (past, present and inherited) increasing the chance of disease or injury

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saturated fats:
fatty acids containing the highest possible number of hydrogen atoms; solid at room temperature
septum:
strong tissue wall that separates the left and right sides (atria and ventricles) of the heart
shock:
insufficient blood in vital parts of the body which temporarily stop functioning, if untreated can lead to brain damage or death; often a reaction to injury
stasis:
limited or stopped flow
stenosis:
narrowing of any blood vessel, valve or passage
stents:
wire scaffold to hold a tube, such as an artery, open
stroke:
stoppage of flow of blood to the brain, usually from a clot or rupture of a blood vessel
superior vena cava:
major vein in the upper body that carries oxygen depleted blood to the heart
systolic:
contraction phase of the heartbeat, first number of blood pressure measurement (systolic/diastolic)
tachycardia:
too fast heart beat rate, usually more than 100
thrombosis:
clot
TIA (transient ischemic attack):
very slight stroke, due to a temporary blockage of a blood vessel in the brain
triglycerides:
fatty substances (lipids) in the blood and adipose (fatty) tissues, high levels may lead to heart disease
vasospasm:
sudden involuntary contraction of a blood vessel; abnormal
vasovagal response:
fainting or light headedness due to sudden reduction of heartbeat or blood pressure
vegan:
strict vegetarian: using no animal products, dairy or eggs; animal derived products (leather, silk, etc.) not used.
vein:
vessel that returns oxygen poor blood to the heart venous
thrombosis:
blood clots in the arteries
ventricles:
two lower chambers that pump blood to the body (left) and to the lungs (right)
white blood cells (corpuscles):
cells in the blood that destroy harmful bacteria and other foreign substances

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©1994, 1996, 2002
Dr. Neal Pinckney
Healing Heart Foundation
      www.kumu.org