Heart & Vascular Dictionary

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This Heart & Vascular Dictionary includes words related to the heart, blood vessels (vascular) and chest (thoracic) - the areas treated in the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.

We hope this resource will help you and your family understand instructions and information about your condition, testing or treatments.

Letter A

The removal or destruction of tissue

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm that occurs in the section of the aorta that runs through the abdomen (abdominal aorta).

Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound
A non-invasive imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the structures of the abdomen and determine the presence of an aneurysm

A localized formation of pus in a cavity caused by the disintegration or displacement of tissue due to bacterial infection.

A condition where the esophagus is not able to move food into the stomach. The lower esophageal muscle stays closed during swallowing, resulting in the backup of food.

Abrupt onset that usually is severe; happens for a limited period of time.

Adjuvant Therapy
Treatment provided in addition to the primary treatment to prevent cancer recurrence.

Advance Directive
A document in which a person either states choices for medical treatment or designates someone who should make treatment choices if the person should become unable to make decisions. Most often the term refers to formal, written documents, but it can also be used to include spoken statements by the patient. Legal documents including the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Living Will states what type of treatment you wish to receive in the event that you become physically or mentally unable to communicate your wishes. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes another person to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself.

Aerobic Exercise
Exercise which can improve your functional ability and, in some cases, reduce symptoms of heart disease. It is repetitive in nature and involves the large muscle groups. Examples are walking, swimming, and cycling.

American Heart Association

Allograft (allogenic graft or homograft)
An organ or tissue transplanted from one individual to another of the same species, i.e. human to human.

Thin-walled, small sacs located at the ends of the smallest airways in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.

Ambulatory Monitors
Small portable electrocardiograph machines that are able to record the heart's rhythm. Each type of monitor has unique features related to length of recording time and ability to send the recordings over the phone. They include: Holter Monitor, Loop Recorder, and Transtelephonic transmitter.

A rare autoimmune disorder characterized by the buildup of abnormal protein in tissues. Amyloidosis can be a cause of heart valve disorders and heart failure.

A condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen available to the body.

The abnormal dilatation (enlargement, bulging or stretching) of the wall of an artery, vein or heart caused by damage or weakness in the blood vessel wall. When aneurysms grow too large, they can rupture and the bleeding can be life threatening. In cardiac surgery, aneurysms usually apply to either the ascending, aortic arch, or descending aorta. Aneurysms that have grown too large should be replaced.

Angina (also called angina pectoris)
Discomfort or pressure, usually in the chest, caused by a temporarily inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. Discomfort may also be felt in the neck, jaw or arms. A common symptom of coronary artery disease, angina usually occurs during periods of physical or emotional stress and is relieved by rest.

The spontaneous or drug-induced growth of new blood vessels. The growth of these vessels may help to alleviate coronary artery disease by rerouting blood flow around clogged arteries.

Angiogram / Angiography
An invasive imaging procedure that usually involves inserting a catheter into an artery leading to the heart muscle or brain and injecting a radioactive tracer into the blood stream via the catheter. This test is used to determine if there is fatty build-up or plaque in the arteries causing narrowing. Coronary angiography is also called cardiac catheterization.

An invasive procedure, during which a specially designed balloon catheter with a small balloon tip is guided to the point of narrowing in a artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to compress the fatty matter into the artery wall and stretch the artery open to increase blood flow through the blood vessel.

Angiotension-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors)
A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. ACE inhibitors block a specific enzyme (ACE or angiotensin-converting enzyme) which retains salt in the kidney and can cause heart and blood pressure problems.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
A class of medicines used to treat high blood pressure.

Ankle Transmetatarsal and Toe Tracings
A procedure used to test the arterial blood flow to the hands and feet.

A ring of tough fibrous tissue which is attached to and supports the leaflets of the heart valve.

Anomalous Coronary Artery
The normal anatomy for the coronary arteries involves their origin from the aorta at each of two separate sites. Sometimes people can be born with the origin of a coronary artery that comes from an abnormal site and this can lead to problems of coronary ischemia which can subsequently lead to heart attack. Not all coronary anomalies need surgery, but some do and the specific operation depends on which of the many varieties of coronary anomalies is present.

A drug that is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

A protein substance made by the body's immune system in response to a foreign substance, for example a previous transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy. Because the antibodies attack the transplanted organ, transplant patients must take powerful immunosuppressive drugs.

Also called cholinergic blockers or "maintenance" bronchodilators. Type of medication that helps open (dilate) the bronchial tubes (airways) to help move more air easily into and out of the lungs. Anticholinergics also help clear mucus from the airways. As the airways open, the mucus moves more freely and can therefore be coughed out more easily.

Anticoagulant ("blood thinner")
A medication that prevents blood from clotting; used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

A foreign molecule or substance, such as a transplant, that triggers an immune response. This response may be the production of antibodies.

Antihypertensive Drug
A drug that reduces hypertension (high blood pressure).

Part of a group of vitamins (A, B, C and E) that may help to limit the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Studies suggest that certain antioxidants may protect against coronary artery disease.

Antiplatelet Medication
A medication, such as aspirin or plavix (clopidogrel), used to prevent platelets from clumping together and causing the formation of blood clots. Used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

Large artery leaving the heart. All blood pumped out of the left ventricle travels through the aorta on its way to other parts of the body.

Aortic Arch Replacement
The aortic arch is that segment of the aorta between the ascending and descending portions. The aortic arch provides the origin for the blood vessels to the upper part of the body, specifically the arms and head. Surgical diseases of the aortic arch can require a replacement of this large blood vessel with preservation of the vessels to the upper body. The most common diseases requiring replacement are an aneurysm of the aortic arch or an aortic dissection involving the aortic arch.

Aortic Dissection
The aorta is the main blood vessel leaving the heart and provides blood flow to the rest of the body. This blood vessel is made up of many layers. In certain circumstances, a tear develops in the middle layer, which allows blood to travel down the layer, setting up two channels - the "true" lumen or opening through the blood vessel and the new "false" lumen. Aortic dissection can be a life-threatening emergency, in some situations requiring emergency surgery to repair or replace that segment of the aorta.

Aortic Insufficiency
Aortic insufficiency refers specifically to the aortic valve, which is the valve the blood passes through as it leaves the heart and enters the aorta. When blood leaks back through the valve it is known as aortic insufficiency. Small amounts of aortic insufficiency may be inconsequential, but larger amounts require repair or replacement of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve
The aortic valve is the last valve through which the blood passes before it enters the aorta or main blood vessel of the body. The valve prevents blood from leaking back into the left ventricle from the aorta after it has been ejected from the heart.

Aortic Valve Homograft
When replacement of an aortic valve is necessary it is possible to replace the valve with another human valve known as an aortic valve homograft. This operation involves cardiopulmonary bypass

Aortic Valve Repair
The aortic valve is the last valve in the heart through which the blood travels prior to circulating in the body. When this valve is leaking or too tight, the surgeon may be able to repair the valve rather than replace it.

Aortic Valve Replacement
When the aortic valve is diseased, it can become either stenotic (too narrow) or insufficient (leaky). In such cases, the aortic valve may need to be replaced with either a prosthetic or human valve.

An irregular heart beat

Arterial Blood Gas Test
A blood test that measures oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Arterial Grafting
In patients who require coronary artery bypass graft surgery, it is sometimes desirable to use arteries from other parts of the body to provide the bypass grafts. This is known as arterial grafting. The alternative is to use vein grafts for coronary bypass surgery.

Blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the arms, legs, head, body and organs.

X-ray of an artery after dye is injected. Patient may or may not be admitted to the hospital after the test.

Arteriosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries")
The process whereby abnormal deposits of lipids, cholesterol and plaque build up, leading to narrowing or blockage in arteries taking blood to the hand, foot head or vital organs. Also called atherosclerosis.

Ascending Aorta Replacement
The aorta is the main blood vessel that leaves the heart to provide blood flow to the rest of the body. When the ascending or first part of the aorta is diseased, it sometimes needs to be replaced. The replacement is most often done with a synthetic cloth tube.

Aspiration Pneumonia
A condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach or esophagus are breathed into the airways.

Asthma, chronic
A disease of the air passages that carry air in and out of the lungs. Asthma causes the airways to narrow, the lining of the airways to swell and the cells that line the airways to produce more mucus. These changes make breathing difficult and cause a feeling of not getting enough air into the lungs. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and excess mucus production.

Partial or complete collapse of the lung, usually due to a blockage of the air passages with fluid, mucus or infection. Symptoms include dry cough, chest pain and mild shortness of breath.

Atherectomy (DCA - Directional Coronary Atherectomy)
The DCA catheter has a hollow cylinder on the tip with an open window on one side and a balloon on the other. When the catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery, the balloon is inflated, pushing the window against the fatty matter clogging the vessel. A blade (cutter) within the cylinder rotates and shaves off any fat, which protruded into the window. The shavings are caught in a chamber within the catheter and removed. This process is repeated as needed to allow better blood flow.

Large build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances on the walls of an artery, causing narrowing. Also called plaque.

Commonly known as "hardening of the arteries." A disease in which fatty deposits accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, causing narrowing or blockage that may result in a heart attack.

The abnormal closure or absence of an opening or passage.

The upper chambers of the heart. Atrium refers to one chamber of the heart.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF)
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm in which many impulses begin and spread through the atria. The resulting rhythm is disorganized, rapid and irregular and the atria are not able to fully empty their contents into the ventricles.

Atrial Flutter
Atrial flutter is a regular heart rhythm in which many impulses begin and spread through the atria. The resulting rhythm is organized, but so rapid that the atria are not able to fully empty their contents into the ventricles.

Atrial Myxoma
A myxoma is a tumor of the heart. It resides in the atrial chamber and causes symptoms when its growth produces a tumor so large it obstructs blood flow through the heart chambers.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
The atria are the chambers of the heart in which the blood dwells prior to entering the ventricles, which are the main pumping chambers. The right and left atrial lie next to each other in the heart and there is a membranous wall or septum between the two. In some people, there can be a hole in the muscular wall or septum, known as an atrial septal defect. Tiny defects called patent foramen ovale are present in up to 30 percent of people and are of no consequence except in unusual circumstances. Moderate size to larger size defects should be corrected and may require heart surgery.

Atrioventricular (AV) Node
A center of special cells located near the center of the heart that helps to regulate the heart rhythm. Here, the electrical current slows for a moment before going on to the ventricles.

The top filling chamber of the heart. There are two atria - the left and the right, divided by a muscular wall, called the septum. The atrium contracts before the ventricle to allow optimal filling of the ventricle.

Attending or Primary Physician
The doctor who has the main responsibility for your care while you are in the hospital. There may be other doctors caring for you such as consulting doctors, resident doctors, and medical students.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
A regulatory structure that helps people adapt to changes in their environment. It adjusts or modifies some functions in response to stress. The ANS helps regulate blood vessels' size and blood pressure, the heart's electrical activity and ability to contract, the bronchium's diameter (and thus air flow) in the lungs, the movement and work of the stomach, intestine and salivary glands, the secretion of insulin and the urinary and sexual functions. (www.heart.org/HEARTORG)

Letter B

Balloon Angioplasty (PTCA - Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty)
A specially designed balloon catheter with a small balloon tip is guided to the point of narrowing in the artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to compress the fatty matter into the artery wall and stretch the artery open to increase blood flow through the blood vessel.

Balloon (Pneumatic) Dilation
A nonsurgical treatment for achalasia. While the patient is under light sedation, the gastroenterologist inserts a specially designed balloon through the lower esophageal sphincter and inflates it. The balloon disrupts the esophageal muscle to relieve the pressure that blocks food from passing easily into the stomach. Some patients may have to undergo repeat dilation treatments to achieve an improvement in symptoms, or other treatments may also be needed.

Bacterial Endocarditis
Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the heart's inner lining (endocardium) or the heart valves. This can damage or even destroy your heart valves.

Barium Swallow Test
A test in which the patient swallows a barium sulfate preparation (liquid or other form) and its movement through the esophagus is evaluated using X-ray technology. Barium is safe and does not dissolve or react in the body. It is used as a contrast material because it blocks x-rays so the area being evaluated appears white against a dark background.

Barrett’s Esophagus
A condition that develops in some people who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or inflammation of the esophagus.

Batista Procedure
During this surgical procedure, to treat heart failure, the surgeon cuts out a piece of the patient's enlarged left ventricular muscle. The intention is to reduce the size of the left ventricular cavity, improve left ventricular function and reverse congestive heart failure. This procedure is not performed at Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute at this time because long term results revealed a significant failure rate, however, this procedure has led to better surgical techniques to treat those with heart failure (see infarct exclusion surgery)

Beta Blocker
A drug that slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, controls angina and protects patients with prior heart attacks from future heart attacks.

Bicuspid Valve
A valve with two leaflets (cusps) instead of three.

Professionals who are skilled in helping people make decisions about what is morally right and wrong.

The removal of a sample of tissue via a small needle. The tissue is removed for examination to determine a diagnosis.

BIPAP (Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure) Machine
A breathing machine that uses two pressure levels (inspiratory and expiratory) to provide breathing assistance. This machine is often used for patients with sleep apnea or respiratory failure.

Blood Clot (thrombus)
A clot forms when clotting factors in the blood cause it to coagulate or become a solid, jelly-like mass. When a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel (a thrombus), it can dislodge and travel through the blood stream, causing a heart attack or stroke.

Blood Pressure
The force exerted in the arteries by blood as it circulates. It is divided into systolic (when the heart contracts) and diastolic (when the heart is filling) pressures.

Blood Thinners (anticoagulants)
Medicine used to prevent clots from forming or getting larger. Heparin is generally given through the vein and Coumadin (warfarin) by mouth.

Blood Typing
A test that can help establish compatibility between two different types of blood. Blood types include A, B, AB or O.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
A waste product regularly removed by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine. Regular testing of the BUN level serves as an indicator of how well the kidney is functioning.

Blood Vessel
A flexible tube that transports blood throughout the body. Arteries, veins, and capillaries are the body's blood vessels.

Body Mass Index
The number, derived by dividing body weight by height squared; used to determine health risk created by excess body weight.

Botox (Botulinum Toxin) Injections
A treatment for some patients with achalasia. Botox is a protein made by the bacteria that cause botulism. When injected into muscles in very small quantities, Botox can relax spastic muscles. It works by preventing nerves from sending signals to the muscles that tell them to contract.

A slow heart rate.

Brain Death
Brain damage that is so severe and extensive that the brain cannot recover. Breathing has stopped, but the circulation may still be continuing because of artificial ventilation. Donor organs can only be taken from people who are declared brain dead.

Breath Sounds
Sounds heard through a stethoscope. The intensity of the sound of air moving in and out of the lungs may indicate the amount of obstruction.

Breathing Rate
The number of breaths per minute.

Breathing Tube (endotracheal tube)
A temporary tube put into the nose or mouth. Anesthesia or air and oxygen pass through the tube allowing artificial breathing.

A pair of breathing tubes that connect the trachea to the lungs. Oxygen and carbon dioxide travel in opposite directions through the bronchi.

Bronchial Tubes
Branches of the airways (air passages) in the lungs.

The smallest branches of the airways in the lungs. They connect to the alveoli (air sacs).

Bronchitis, chronic
Irritation and inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. The irritation causes coughing and excess amounts of mucus in the airways which can lead to difficulty breathing. Bronchitis is considered chronic when the person has a productive cough (coughs up mucus) and shortness of breath that lasts at least three months each year for at least two years in a row.

Medication used to relax the muscle bands that tighten around the airways to increase air flow. Bronchodilators also help clear mucus from the lungs.

A long, thin tube with a small camera at the end that is used to evaluate the airways. The bronchoscope is passed through the nose or mouth, past the vocal chords and down the airway as far as necessary. The camera transmits the images on a television monitor. Bronchoscopy can be used to remove objects or mucus blocking the airway, or to remove growths in the airway.

A diagnostic test used to view the inside of the airway. The test can be performed to diagnose lung diseases or locate the source of a problem by visualizing the throat, larynx, trachea and lungs and collecting tissue samples for biopsy.

The sudden tightening of the bands of muscle that surround the airways, causing the airways to become narrower. Bronchospasm may result in wheezing.

An abnormal sound heard when a stethoscope is placed over an artery.

Buerger’s Disease
Most commonly affects the small and medium sized arteries, veins, and nerves. The arteries of the arms and legs become narrowed or blocked, causing lack of blood supply (ischemia) to the fingers, hands, toes and feet.

Bundle Branch
The electrical impulses travel down a normal pathway through the heart. From the SA node, the impulse travels to the AV node. Then it goes to the bundle of His. The bundle divides into a right bundle and the left bundle. The bundles take the impulse through the ventricles (bottom chambers) to cause them to contract.

Bundle Branch Block
Normally, the electrical impulse travels down both the right and left bundle branches at the same speed and the ventricles contract at the same time. If there is a block in one of the branches, it is called a bundle branch block. A bundle branch block causes one ventricle to contract just after the other ventricle.

A surgical procedure designed to increase blood flow to an organ or extremity that has narrowing or blockage of the blood supplying artery. Examples include coronary artery bypass surgery, aortic replacement, ABI (aorta-bi-iliac), ABF (aorto-bi-femoral), and femoral-popliteal bypass)

Letter C

C-reactive Protein (CRP)
CRP is a protein found in the blood. It is a marker for inflammation, meaning its presence indicates a heightened state of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a normal response to many physical states including fever, injury and infection, and is now believed to play a role in the initiation and progression of cardiovascular disease.

Cadaveric Donor
An individual who has recently passed away of causes not affecting the organ intended for transplant. Cadaver organs usually come from people who have willed their organs before death by signing organ donor cards. Permission for donation also can be given by the deceased person's family at the time of death.

A process in which tissue becomes hardened due to deposits of calcium salts. Calcification of blood vessels plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.

A mineral found mainly in dairy products that is used by the body as a building block of bone and for the proper functioning of organs and muscles. It is needed in many phases of blood clotting. Calcium is also an ingredient of artery-clogging plaque.

Calcium-Channel Blocker
A drug that reduces spasm of the blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and controls angina; acts by selectively blocking the uptake of calcium by the cells.

A small plastic tube used to supply extra oxygen through the nose.

Tiny blood vessels connecting arteries to veins. These blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to individual cells.

An organic compound, found in sugars, cereal, fruits and vegetables, that provide fuel for the body.

Carbon Dioxide
A colorless, odorless gas that is formed in tissues of the body, created during metabolism when the cells use oxygen to burn fat and release energy. The lungs release it when you breathe out.

Carbon Monoxide
A gas found in cigarette smoke; damages artery walls and reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen, increasing the risk of coronary artery disease.

Cancer-causing substance.

Cardiac Arrest
When the heart stops beating suddenly and respiration (breathing) and other body functions stop as a result.

Cardiac Auscultation
The use of a stethoscope to listen to the sounds the heart makes as it contracts and relaxes. Cardiac auscultation can be used to evaluate the heart rate, rhythm, and flow through the valves.

Cardiac Catheterization
An invasive imaging procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg, and guiding it to your heart with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that x-ray movies of your valves, coronary arteries and heart chambers are taken. Cardiac catheterization is also called coronary angiography.

Cardiac Output
The amount of blood pumped by the heart each minute.

Cardiac Rehabilitation
A structured program of education and activity guided toward lifestyle modification, increasing functional capabilities and peer support.

Doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

An abnormal heart condition in which the heart is dilated (poor pumping power), restrictive (impaired ability of the heart to fill) and hypertrophic (enlarged heart).

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR is a technique designed to temporarily circulate oxygenated blood through the body of a person whose heart has stopped. It involves assessing the airway; if necessary breathing for the person; determining if the person is pulseless; and if necessary, applying pressure to the chest to circulate blood.

Relates to the blood and blood vessels.

A procedure used to convert an irregular heart rhythm to a normal heart rhythm by applying electric shock. Cardioversion may be accomplished using medications or a defibrillator.

Carotid Artery
A vessel that supplies the brain with oxygenated blood.

Carotid Artery Disease
A progressive disease which involves the buildup of fatty material and plaque in the carotid arteries; can lead to a stroke.

Carotid Angiography (carotid angiogram, carotid angio)
An invasive imaging procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or leg, and guiding it to the carotid arteries with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that x-ray movies of your carotid arteries (the arteries that supply your brain with oxygen-rich blood) are taken.

Carotid Bruit
An abnormal sound, heard when using a stethoscope to listen to blood flow in the carotid artery. This is the main artery in the neck; it brings blood to the head.

Carotid Duplex Ultrasound
An imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the blood vessels in the neck to and determine the presence of narrowing in the carotid arteries.

A thin, flexible instrument used to introduce or withdraw fluids from the body. A catheter also may be used to monitor blood pressure.

Cerebral Embolism
A common cause of stroke - an embolus that has moved through the blood stream and obstructs an artery leading to the brain.

Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA)
The medical term used to describe a stroke

Chest X-ray
Used to view the lungs and lower respiratory tract. A chest X-ray may be used for diagnosis and therapy.

A fatty substance that is acquired in part from certain foods. A high cholesterol level may lead to atherosclerosis.

Chordae Tendinae
The thin, fibrous chords that lead from the valve leaflets to the small papillary muscles within the heart muscle wall, contributes to the support of the tricuspid and mitral valves.

Continuing over a certain period of time; long-term.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Damaged valves in the veins or a blood clot in the leg may cause ongoing swelling, blood pooling in the legs, and if untreated, discomfort and ulceration.

Hair-like structures that line the airways in the lungs and help to clean out the airways.

Clinical Trial
A research study or protocol conducted with patients to evaluate a new medical treatment, drug or device, to compare the effect and value of an intervention or treatment with a control. Control means there's no intervention or treatment given, only a placebo or standard treatment. Clinical researchers conduct clinical trials. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/) The purpose of clinical trials is to find new and improved methods of treating different diseases and special conditions.

Clotting Factors
A group of chemicals in the blood, including fibrinogen, prothrombin, and calcium, that combine to form thrombi.

The ends of the fingers and toes enlarge and bend inward; related to inadequate oxygen-rich blood supply. Often seen with congenital heart defects, but also seen in other conditions.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
A procedure using cardiac and respiratory equipment and medications possibly to restore the heartbeat and/or breathing.

Coagulation Problems
Problem with blood clotting, either too much clotting or not enough.

Coarctation of the Aorta
A severe narrowing of the aorta, causing a decrease in blood flow to the lower part of the body. This narrowing is a congenital defect and can be corrected with surgery.

Collagen Seal
The seal is a protein material that is used after an invasive procedure (such as a cardiac catheterization) performed through the groin. The "seal" works with your body's natural healing processes to form a clot in the artery, decreasing the amount of time needed to lie flat. The collagen seal cannot be given to every patient for individual reasons. Once a seal has been placed in the groin artery, that artery cannot be used during another procedure for at least 3 months after the seal has been placed.

Collateral Blood Vessels
Small capillary-like branches of the artery that form over time in response to narrowed coronary arteries. The collaterals "bypass" the area of narrowing and help to restore blood flow. However, during times of increased exertion, the collaterals may not be able to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

The heart valves are made up of leaflets. The leaflets touch each other and the edge of the area where they come in contact is known as the commissures. In some patients, specifically those with rheumatic heart disease, the commissures can become scarred and fail to open and allow blood to flow through easily. In situations like this, the commissures can be released or reopened with a procedure known as commissurotomy.

Complete Heart Block (heart block)
An arrhythmia. The electrical current is slowed between the atria and ventricles. In more severe cases, conduction is blocked completely and the atria and ventricles beat independently.

Complex Carbohydrates
Starchy foods that are good sources of energy and nutrients, such as bread, rice, pasta and grains.

The act of following orders and adhering to rules and policies, i.e. taking one's medications after transplant.

The occurrence of diseases or medical problems simultaneously in the body.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
An x-ray procedure that combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views of the body.

Congenital Heart Defects
Heart defects present at birth.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Also known as heart failure. A condition where the heart muscle weakens and can not pump blood efficiently throughout the body.

Connective Tissue Disease
Disease caused by problem with collagen (the elastic support system in the body); can have a vascular component. Examples include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Can also be referred to mixed connective tissue diseases (MCTD)

Constrictive Pericarditis
The pericardium is the sac around the heart. In some patients, this sac can become inflamed and scarred. If this scarring process produces a contracture or shrinkage of the pericardium, it can prevent the heart from filling to its full extent. This disease is known as constrictive pericarditis.

Any condition which indicates that a particular course of treatment (or exercise) would be inadvisable or cause harm.

COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
A general term used to describe several lung diseases. The most common diseases in this group include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic asthma may also be included. COPD worsens gradually, causing limited airflow in and out of the lungs.

Cor Pulmonale
Enlargement of the right side of the heart. Cor pulmonale weakens the heart and causes increased shortness of breath and swelling in the feet and legs. Patients who have chronic COPD with low oxygen levels may develop this condition.

Coronary Angiography (cardiac catheterization)
A procedure that allows picture to be taken of the arteries supplying the heart with blood (the coronary arteries). Angiography shows blockages in the arteries.

Coronary Arteries
Network of blood vessels that branch off the aorta to supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. There are two main coronary arteries: the right and the left. The left splits into two arteries called the circumflex and the left anterior descending (LAD) arteries, thus, the heart is often considered to have three major coronary arteries.

Coronary Artery Disease (atherosclerosis)
A build-up of fatty material in the wall of the coronary artery that causes narrowing of the artery.

Coronary Spasm
During coronary spasm, the coronary arteries restrict or spasm on and off, causing lack of blood supply to the heart muscle. It may occur at rest and can even occur in people without significant coronary artery disease.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Machine
A breathing machine that provides pressure to keep the upper airways open during breathing. This machine is often used for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

A waste product in the blood that is removed by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine. Regular testing of the creatinine level serves as an indicator of how well the kidney is functioning.

A test that establishes the compatibility or closeness of blood between the organ donor and recipient. A positive crossmatch shows that the donor and patient are incompatible. A negative crossmatch means there is no reaction between donor and patient and that the transplant may proceed.

A blue tint to the skin, indicates the body is not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood.

Cyclosporine Level Test
A blood test that measures the amount of cyclosporine in the blood. Based on the amount of cyclosporine measured, a physician decides what dose of cyclosporine is appropriate for a patient.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
A common virus that may be present without symptoms in healthy people, but can be a serious condition if present in transplant patients.

Letter D

Decisional Incapacity
A condition in which a patient is unable to understand his or her choices or declare personal wishes about his or her care.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
A clot in a deep vein, usually the leg. Symptoms may include pain, swelling or no symptoms at all. If untreated, the clot could travel to the lungs.

A machine that is used to administer an electric shock to the heart in order to reestablish normal heart rhythm.

A condition in which the body does not produce or respond to insulin (a hormone produced by your body, which allows blood sugar or glucose into your body's cells for energy.

An artificial means of cleansing the blood of waste products and removing fluids from the body when the patient’s own kidneys are unable to continue this process.

The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. The diaphragm is the most efficient breathing muscle.

Diaphragmatic Surgery
Surgery performed on the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic surgery may be performed to treat a hernia or any other conditions that affect the diaphragm.

The part of the heart cycle during which the myocardium relaxes and expands. During diastole, blood fills the heart chambers.

The lower number in a blood pressure reading that indicates the pressure in the heart when the muscle is relaxed (the point of least pressure).

Diastolic Pressure
The pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart is filling. It is the lower of two blood pressure measurements, e.g., 120/80, where 80 is the diastolic pressure.

Diffusion Capacity
A measurement of how much oxygen is carried from your lungs into your bloodstream.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy
A disease of the myocardium (heart muscle) that causes the heart cavity to become stretched and enlarged, and the pumping capacity of the heart is reduced.

The increase in size of a blood vessel.

Dipyridamole Stress Test
If you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle for a stress test, a medication, called dipyridamole (Persantine) is used instead of exercise to test the heart's blood flow.

A drug that helps the body get rid of excess water by increasing the amount of urine the body excretes.

DNR Order (Do Not Resuscitate Order)
An advanced directive that means no CPR is to be done when the heart and lungs stop.

Dobutamine Stress Echo Echocardiogram
(dobutamine echo, pharmacological echocardiogram)

A procedure that involves infusing a medication through an intravenous (IV) line, called dobutamine, while you are closely monitored. The medication stimulates your heart, to evaluate your heart and valve function at rest and with exertion, when you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary cycle.
Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a graphic outline of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

A person who gives an organ, tissue or blood to another person. A compatible donor is a person who has the same tissue and blood types as the person who receives the organ, tissue or blood.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A written advance directive in which individuals name someone else (the "agent" or "proxy") to make health care decisions for them when they are unable to speak for themselves.

(neurocardiogenic syncope, POTS- postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)

Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous syndrome. Causes symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and other symptoms. See syncope.

Difficulty swallowing.

Abnormal or precancerous cells or tissue.

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.

Letter E

Ebstein's Anomaly
A congenital malformation of the tricuspid valve. It usually occurs together with a septal defect.

An imaging procedure that creates a moving picture outline of the heart's valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest or passed down your throat. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves. Doppler senses the speed of sound and can pick up abnormal leakage or blockage of valves.

ECMO - Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation
In patients who are unable to provide oxygen for their own blood or enough blood circulation, they can be put on life support known as extra corporeal membrane oxygenation. The blood is withdrawn from a large vein in the body and passes through a pumping mechanism, and then through a device which puts oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide from the blood. The blood is then returned to the body and circulated in such a way as to sustain life.

Out of place. An ectopic heart beat originates in an abnormal location of the heart.

Abnormal swelling of tissue due to fluid buildup, usually in the hands, feet, ankles, legs or abdomen; may be a complication of heart failure.

Eisenmenger's Complex
A disease characterized by thickening of the pulmonary arteries, elevated blood pressure in the lungs, and heart failure. Eisenmenger's syndrome develops as a complication of ventricular septal defect, a congenital disorder.

Ejection Fraction (EF)
The amount of blood pumped out of a ventricle during each heart beat. The ejection fraction evaluates how well the heart is pumping; Normally 50 - 70 percent.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
A test that records on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart via small electrode patches attached to the skin. An EKG helps a physician determine the causes of abnormal heartbeat or detect heart damage.

One of the substances in the blood that helps to regulate the proper balance of body fluids. Examples of electrolytes include sodium and potassium.

Electrophysiology (EP) Study
An EP Study is a recording of the electrical activity your heart. This test is used to help your doctor find out the cause of your rhythm disturbance and the best treatment for you. During the test, your doctor may safely reproduce your arrhythmia, then give you medications to see which one controls it best.

The blockage of an artery by an embolus (see below).

A blood clot that moves through the blood stream. When forced into a smaller blood vessel, it can create an obstruction.

A degenerative disease characterized by the destruction, or breakdown, of the walls of the alveoli (air sacs) located at the end of the bronchial tubes. The damaged alveoli are not able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood. The bronchioles lose their elasticity and collapse during exhalation, trapping air in the lungs. The trapped air keeps fresh air and oxygen from entering the lungs.

A collection of pus in the pleural space (the cavity between the lung and the membrane that surrounds it).

Endocarditis (SBE)
An infection of the inner lining of the heart or its valves. It is usually caused by bacteria and is more likely to occur in people who have heart valve defects or have had heart surgery to treat valve disease.

The smooth, inner lining of the heart chambers.

Endoscopic Screenings
A diagnostic procedure used to view the lining of the esophagus, stomach, small bowel or colon.

The interior surfaces of blood vessels. The endothelium, which is the site of atherosclerosis in arteries, is composed of specialized cells called epithelial cells.

Endotracheal Tube (breathing tube)
A temporary tube put into the nose or mouth. Anesthesia or air and oxygen pass through the tube allowing artificial breathing.

Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP)
A treatment for those with symptomatic coronary artery disease, not eligible for standard treatments of revascularization. During EECP, cuffs wrapped around the calves, thighs and buttocks are inflated and deflated, gently but firmly compressing the blood vessels in the lower limbs, increasing blood flow to the heart. EECP may stimulate the openings or formation of collateral vessels to create a "natural bypass" around narrowed or blocked arteries.

A protein in cells that stimulates chemical reactions in the body.

The thin membrane surrounding the myocardium

The study of large populations to determine the frequency, distribution, and risk factors associated with a particular disease.

A hormone produced by the adrenal glands that also acts as a neurotransmitter for nerve cells. As part of the fight-or-flight response, epinephrine signals the heart to pump harder, increases blood pressure and has other effects on the cardiovascular system. Also called adrenaline.

Erythrocyte (red blood cell, red cell, red corpuscle)
Red blood cell that delivers oxygen to tissues and removes carbon dioxide and other waste products.

Esophageal Cancer
The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the esophagus. The uncontrolled reproduction of cells results in the formation of tumors that can block or compress the esophagus.

Esophageal Diverticulum
A sac or pouch protruding from the esophagus.

Esophageal Manometry
A test that measures the timing and strength of the contractions of the esophagus and the relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter valve.

Esophageal Perforation
A tear in the esophagus that requires emergency surgical treatment.

Esophageal pH Test
A test that measures the pH in the esophagus to determine if you have GERD.

Also called esophageal resection surgery. Surgical removal of the esophagus. An esophagectomy may be performed as a treatment for high-grade dysplasia or cancer.

An inflammation of the lining of the esophagus.

A diagnostic test in which a flexible, narrow tube called an endoscope is passed through the mouth or nose into the esophagus to produce images of the inside of the esophagus. This video examination projects images onto a screen.

The removal of a portion of the lower esophagus and part of the stomach for treatment of tumors or strictures of those organs.

The muscular tube that extends from the neck to the abdomen and connects the throat to the stomach.

Essential Fatty Acid
A type of fatty acid that the body cannot produce and which must be obtained from food; play a role in recovery after surgery, the making of cell membranes, and prevention of infection.

The primary female sex hormone.

Event Monitor (loop recorder)
A small recorder (monitor) is attached to electrodes on your chest. It is worn continuously for a period of time. If symptoms are felt, an event button can be depressed, and the heart's rhythm is recorded and saved in the recorder. The rhythm can be saved and transmitted over the phone line.


Exercise Stress Echocardiogram (stress echo)
A procedure that combines echocardiography with exercise to evaluate the heart's function at rest and with exertion. Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a picture of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

Exercise Stress Test
A test used to provide information about how the heart responds to stress. It usually involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty, while the electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. When one is not able to do activity, medications may be used to "stress" the heart. This is called a pharmacological stress test.

Letter F

A high-energy fuel source.

Fat Substitute
Fat substitutes are ingredients that mimic one or more of the roles of fat in a food.

Fatty Acid
A building block of fat.

An indigestible carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables; aids in digestion.

Abnormally rapid, inefficient contractions of the atria or ventricles. Ventricular fibrillation is life-threatening.

A protein that helps blood to clot and aids in the healing of wounds. Fibrin is also a component of artery-clogging plaque.

A rapid type of heart beat.

Foramen Ovale
An opening between the atria of the heart that normally closes shortly after birth. An atrial septal defect may develop if the foramen ovale fails to close properly.

Free Mammary Artery Graft
When the surgeon removes the mammary artery from its origin to use as a bypass graft.

Free Radical
A destructive fragment of oxygen produced as a byproduct when cells use oxygen to burn fat.

Letter G

Death of tissue due to inadequate blood supply, usually affects the extremities (hands or feet), is more likely to occur in people with atherosclerosis, vascular disease, or other conditions associated with poor blood circulation.

Physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the digestive system, such as hepatitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and colon or rectal cancer. Gastroenterologists may perform many specialized tests, such as endoscopy, to diagnose or treat diseases. When necessary, they may consult with surgeons.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
A condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach travel back up into the esophagus. When you swallow, food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. A valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) controls the passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach when you swallow. It remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. When this muscle fails to close or opens spontaneously, the acid, bile and food contents of the stomach can travel backward into the esophagus. When stomach acid enters the lower part of the esophagus, it can produce a burning sensation, commonly referred to as heartburn.

An artificial opening from the stomach to a hole (stoma) in the abdomen where a feeding tube is inserted. The feeding tube allows the delivery of nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach. A feeding may be needed temporarily after certain surgeries to allow recovery. See also enteral nutrition.

Gene Therapy
Gene therapy is correcting functional gene loss by delivering genes to human tissues. Often DNA viruses engineered to be safe or nonviral DNA are used to help deliver a healthy gene to the tissue cells.

Gingival Hypertrophy
Enlargement of the gums. A common side effect of the medication cyclosporine (Sandimmune), this condition is easily managed with good oral hygiene.

Blood sugar. Manufactured by the body from carbohydrates, protein, and fat, glucose is the main source of energy for all living organisms.

A transplanted tissue or organ (such as the lung or liver).

Great Vessels
The large blood vessels that enter the heart: the aorta, the pulmonary artery and vein, and the venae cavae.

Letter H

H2-Receptor Antagonists
Also called H2 receptor blockers or histamine receptor blockers. Medications that control or eliminate acid, but may not be as effective as proton pump inhibitors. H2-receptor antagonists may be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac 75). Some of these medications are available over-the-counter, but should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time.

Head Upright Tilt Test (HUT, tilt table test, head-up tilt test)
A test used to determine the cause of fainting spells. The test involves being tilted at different angles for a period of time. Heart rhythm, blood pressure, and other measurements are evaluated with changes in position.

Heart Attack (myocardial infarction)
Permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart for an extended time period. The severity of damage varies from normal, mild, to severe.

Heart Block
An arrhythmia. The electrical current is slowed between the atria and ventricles. In more severe cases, conduction is blocked completely and the atria and ventricles beat independently.

Heart Burn
A burning sensation in the chest that may occur after eating, bending, stretching, exercise and sometimes at night when lying down. Heartburn symptoms are usually relieved by antacids and may be more frequent or worse at night.

Heart Failure (CHF - Congestive Heart Failure)
A chronic, progressive disease in which the myocardium (heart muscle) weakens and can not pump blood efficiently. Fluid accumulates in the lungs, hands, ankles, or other parts of the body.

Heart Lung Bypass Machine
A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during surgery.

Heart Monitor
An electrocardiography machine designed to monitor heart function continuously.

Heart Surgery
Heart surgery is any surgery, which involves the heart or heart valves.

Heart Valve
There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid and the mitral valve, which lie between the atria and ventricles and the pulmonic and aortic valves which lie between the ventricles and the blood vessels leaving the heart. The heart valves help to maintain one-way blood flow through the heart.

Heller Myotomy
A surgical treatment for achalasia in which the muscles of the valve between the esophagus into the stomach are cut. Traditional Heller myotomy surgery is completed through an open incision in the abdomen or through an incision in the left side of the chest between the ribs. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy surgery can be performed using smaller incisions with a minimally invasive approach.

A protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide and gives blood its red color.

Heavy bleeding. A cerebral hemorrhage can lead to a stroke.

Heparin Lock (Heplock)
A small tube connected to a catheter in a vein in the arm for easy access.

An infection for which transplant patients are at risk. It appears as small sores on the skin, lips or genitals. When there are no sores, the herpes virus lies dormant (not causing infection) in the body.

An opening in the diaphragm -- the muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen.

Hiatal Hernia
Also called hiatus hernia. An area of the stomach that bulges up into the chest through the hiatus. Normally, the esophagus (food pipe) goes through the hiatus to drain into the stomach. In a hiatal hernia, the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening.

Hibernating Myocardium
After a heart attack, some areas of heart muscle do not pump as they should. Some areas will have permanent damage. Other areas are able to return to their normal function if blood flow is returned to that area by medications or a procedure. Hibernating myocardium is heart muscle that is "resting" and may possibly return to normal function.

High Blood Pressure
See hypertension

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
Lipoprotein particle in the blood. HDL is known as "good" cholesterol because it deposits cholesterol in the liver, where it is excreted by the body. High HDL is thought to protect against coronary artery disease.

An excessive increase of hair growth, sometimes leading to male-pattern hair growth in a female. A common side effect of corticosteroids, it can also occur with cyclosporine (Sandimmune) therapy. Hirsutism can be easily treated with depilatory creams or other hair removal methods.

A naturally-occurring substance that is released by the immune system after being exposed to an allergen. When you inhale an allergen, mast cells located in the nose and sinus membranes release histamine. Histamine then attaches to receptors on nearby blood vessels, causing them to enlarge (dilate). Histamine also binds to other receptors located in nasal tissues, causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in the secretions.

Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 blockers)
See H2 receptor antagonists.

Histocompatibility Antigens
Molecules found on all nucleated cells in the body that characterize each individual as unique. These antigens are inherited from one's parents. Human leukocyte antigens determine the compatibility of tissues for transplantation from one individual to another.

HLA System (Human Leukocyte Antigens)
There are three major genetically controlled groups: HLA-A, HLA-B and HLA-DR. In transplantation, the HLA tissue types of the donor and recipient are sometimes an important part of the selection process. This depends on the recipient's antibodies.

Holter Monitor
A small recorder (monitor) is attached to electrodes on your chest. It records the heart's rhythm continuously for 24 hours. After the monitor is removed the heart's beats are counted and analyzed by a technician with the aid of a computer. Your doctor can learn if you are having irregular heart beats, what kind they are, how long they last, as well as what may cause them.

An amino acid. High levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for coronary artery disease.

A chemical produced by the body that travels the bloodstream delivering messages between organs and glands.

A program that provides care for the terminally ill in the form of pain relief, counseling, and support, either at home or in a facility.

Provision of fluids by any means to prevent dehydration.

A process used by food manufacturers to harden unsaturated liquid vegetable oils into saturated fats, in order to increase the shelf-life of a product or make it thicker in consistency.

A medical condition in which a person sweats excessively and unpredictably. People with hyperhidrosis can sweat even when the temperature is cool, and when they are at rest.

High levels of fatty substances in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

High blood pressure.

A condition caused by excessive production of thyroid hormones; can cause irregular heartbeat.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
In this condition, the muscle mass of the left ventricle enlarges or "hypertrophies."

An abnormal enlargement of an organ or thickening of its tissue. Ventricular hypertrophy is the name given to a thickened ventricle.

Excessive rate and depth of breathing.

Low blood pressure.

Insufficient oxygen in the tissues, even though blood flow is adequate.

Letter I

When the cause of a disease or process is not known.

I/E Ratio
Inhalation/exhalation ratio, or the relative length of inhalation (breathing in) compared to exhalation (breathing out).

Idiopathic Hypertrophic Subaortic Stenosis is another term used synonymously with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.

Iliac Veins
The two principal veins returning blood from the lower part of the body. The iliac veins eventually join to form the inferior vena cava.

Immune Response
The body's defense against foreign objects or organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or transplanted organs or tissue.

Immune System
The body's response mechanism for fighting against bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances. If a cell or tissue (such as bacteria or a transplanted organ) is recognized as not belonging to the body, the immune system will act against the "invader." The immune system is the body's way to fight disease.

Immunosuppressant Drug
A drug that prevents the immune system from responding to cells that it recognizes as foreign to the body. Such drugs prevent the immune system from recognizing that a transplanted organ, such as a lung, is not the organ a person had when he or she was born.

The artificial suppression of the immune response, usually through drugs, so that the body will not reject a transplanted organ or tissue. Drugs commonly used to suppress the immune system after transplant include prednisone, azathioprine (Imuran), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), and cyclosporine (Neoral).

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
An ICD is a surgically inserted electronic device that constantly monitors your heart rate and rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers electrical energy to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again.

Incentive Spirometer
A device that is used to encourage deep inspiration to expand the lungs and improve cough effectiveness.

Tissue death due to lack of oxygen-rich blood.

Infectious Disease Team
A team of physicians and nurses who help control the hospital environment to protect you against harmful sources of infection.

One of the body’s defense mechanisms, inflammation results in increased blood flow in response to infection and certain chronic conditions. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, swelling, pain and heat.

In the heart, inflammation is a local response to cellular injury, inflammation (triggered by environmental factors or genetic influences) causes a sequence of actions in the coronary artery such as, plaque rupture, thrombus formation and embolization into the blood vessels within the heart - placing one at increased risk for heart attack.

Informed Consent
A process of reaching an agreement based on full disclosure. Informed consent has components of disclosure, comprehension, competence and voluntary response. Informed consent often refers to the process by which one decides to donate the organs of a loved one.

Innocent Heart Murmurs (functional or physiologic murmur)
Sounds made by the blood circulating through the heart's chambers and valves or through blood vessels near the heart. Innocent murmurs are common in children and are quite harmless.

Innominate Veins
The two principle veins returning blood from the upper part of the body. The innominate veins eventually join to form the superior vena cava.

Inotrope Medication
A medication used to strengthen the heart's contractions and improve blood circulation.

Difficulty sleeping

A hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body metabolize sugar.

Intermittent Claudication
Leg pain brought on by walking because of narrowed or blocked arteries cannot provide enough blood flow to the muscles of the legs. Intermittent claudication can be caused by atherosclerosis or a spasm or occlusion in an artery.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
A special nursing area devoted to providing continuous and immediate care to patients recovering right after surgery or to seriously ill patients.

The inner layer of the arterial wall. Atherosclerosis originates in the intima.

Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump Assist Device
The intra-aortic balloon pump is a machine that can help the pumping function of the heart. It is usually inserted through an artery in the groin area and threaded backwards into the descending thoracic aorta in the chest. In this location the balloon inflates and deflates in synchrony with the heart in order to aid the blood pumping function of the heart in patients with cardiac disease.

Intracardiac Tumor
An Intracardiac Tumor can be any tumor of the heart, either malignant or benign. The most common tumor of the heart is a benign atrial myxoma.

Inside a blood vessel.

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)
An invasive procedure, performed along with cardiac catheterization; a miniature sound probe (transducer) on the tip of a coronary catheter is threaded through the coronary arteries and, using high-frequency sound waves, produces detailed images of the interior walls of the arteries.

Intravenous (IV)
Delivery of drugs, fluids or food directly into a vein.

Placing a tube in the trachea (wind pipe) to enable artificial breathing.

Penetrating. Invasive tests or procedures are those that penetrate the body or puncture the skin.

Reduced blood flow to an area of the body due to an obstructed vessel.

Ischemic Ulcers
Non-healing ulcers on feet or hands, usually quite painful. Often blood flow needs to be increased before the ulcer will heal.

Letter J

Jejunostomy Tube (J-tube)
A feeding tube that is inserted through the skin on the abdomen into the small intestine. The feeding tube allows the delivery of nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach. A J-tube may be needed temporarily after certain surgeries to allow recovery.

Letter L

Laparoscopic Surgery
A minimally invasive surgical technique. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon inserts a thin, telescopic-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision above the umbilicus (belly button). The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera -- smaller than a dime -- that projects a view of the abdomen onto video monitors located in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a gas, to allow your surgeon a better view of the operative area. Three or four additional small incisions are made in the abdomen through which the surgeon inserts specialized surgical instruments. The surgeon uses these instruments to perform the operation. As compared with traditional surgery, patients who undergo laparoscopic surgery experience decreased postoperative pain, shorter hospital stay and a more rapid recovery and return to work. Other possible benefits include reduced risk of infection and less bleeding.

Laparoscopic Antireflux Surgery
See Nissen fundoplication.

Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy
A minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to treat achalasia. This surgical treatment opens up the lower valve (lower esophageal sphincter) so that food passes from the mouth to the stomach by gravity. Because the lower esophageal sphincter’s function is to stop the return of gastric contents into the esophagus, a partial fundoplication procedure is also performed to minimize reflux and protect the esophagus from damaging gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

An evaluation that involves looking into the abdominal cavity with a special camera (called a laparoscope).

Lead Extraction
A lead is a special wire that delivers energy from a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to the heart muscle.  A lead extraction is the removal of one or more leads from inside the heart. Leads that are placed outside the heart during open heart surgery cannot be removed during this type of procedure.

Thin pieces of tissue or flaps that make up a valve.

Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
In patients with end-stage heart disease whose hearts do not pump a sufficient amount of blood to keep the body healthy, it is possible to place a mechanical device that aids in the pumping function of the blood. This device is known as a left ventricular assist device. There are many devices available for implantation.

Legal Guardian
A person charged (usually by court appointment) with the power and duty of taking care of and managing the property and rights of another person who is unable to take care of their own affairs.

Leukocyte (white blood cell)
Cells in the blood that seeks and destroys disease-causing microorganisms.

Leukotriene Modifier
medication that blocks chemicals called leukotrienes in the airways. Leukotrienes occur naturally in the body and cause tightening of airway muscles and production of excess mucus and fluid. Leukotriene modifiers work by blocking leukotrienes and decreasing these reactions.

Life-Sustaining Treatment
A medical treatment given to a patient that prolongs life and delays death.

Linolenic Acid (Omega 3)
An essential fatty acid. Omega3, which is found in fish and certain plants, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction by lowering triglyceride levels and blood pressure and preventing the formation of life-threatening thrombi.

Fat circulating in the blood.

A combination of fat and protein that transports lipids (fats) in the blood.

Living Will
A written advance directive in which an individual states which health care decisions should be made if the individual becomes unable to make these decisions.

Removal of a lobe of the lung. Lobectomy is the most common surgery performed to treat lung cancer. Also see video-assisted lobectomy surgery.

Loop Recorder (event monitor)
A small recorder (monitor) is attached to electrodes on your chest. It is worn continuously for a period of time. If symptoms are felt, an event button can be depressed, and the heart's rhythm is recorded and saved in the recorder. The rhythm can be saved and transmitted over a phone line.

Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)
LQTS is a disorder of the heart’s electrical system. LQTS is a defect in the ion channels, causing a delay in the time it takes for the electrical system to recharge after each heartbeat. When the QT interval is longer than normal, it increases the risk for torsade de pointes, a life-threatening form of ventricular tachycardia.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
A lipoprotein particle in the blood responsible for depositing cholesterol into the lining of the artery. Known as "bad" cholesterol because high LDL is linked to coronary artery disease.

Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)
A valve located at the end of the esophagus that controls the passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach when you swallow.

The hollow cavity of a blood vessel or other tubular organ.

Lung Biopsy
A procedure in which several small samples of lung tissue are removed through a small incision between the ribs. The lung tissue is examined under a microscope by expert pathologists and may also be sent to a laboratory to be cultured. The lung tissue is examined for the presence of lung diseases such as infectious or interstitial lung disease.

Lung Cancer
The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lung or lungs. The uncontrolled reproduction of cells results in the formation of tumors that can block or compress airways and displace or damage normal lung tissue. This can make the lung stop functioning as it should.

Lung Failure
Also called respiratory failure. The sudden inability of the lungs to provide normal oxygen delivery or normal carbon dioxide removal.

Lung Nodule
Also called pulmonary nodule. A round lesion or growth located within the lung. Lung nodules usually do not cause symptoms, but may be detected on a chest x-ray. More than half of lung nodules are noncancerous (benign) and may be caused by a previous infection. A needle biopsy may be required to test the nodule to determine if is benign or malignant.

Lung Transplant
A surgical procedure in which a healthy lung from a donor replaces the recipient's unhealthy lung. Lung transplant is a treatment option reserved for selected patients with chronic lung diseases.

Lung Volume Reduction Surgery
A surgical procedure performed to remove diseased, emphysematous lung tissue. This procedure reduces the size of an over-inflated lung and allows the expansion of the remaining, often more functional lung. This surgery has been shown to help improve breathing ability, lung capacity and overall quality of life in selected patients.

Lupus (SLE - Systemic Lupus Erythematosis)
A chronic autoimmune disorder in which a person's natural antibodies, which normally fight infection, damage parts of the central nervous system, connective tissue, or internal organs such as the lungs or kidneys. Lupus can cause heart valve disorders.

Lymphatic Vessels
Drain lymph from tissues and returns it to the blood.

Chronic swelling of an arm or leg due to a blockage of the lymph vessels.

Cancer that occurs in cells of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma includes Hodgkin’s disease and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Letter M

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A test that produces high-quality still and moving pictures of the heart and large blood vessels. MRI uses large magnets and radiofrequency waves to produce pictures of the body's internal structures. No X-ray exposure is involved. MRI acquires information about the heart as it is beating; creating moving images of the heart throughout its pumping cycle.

Mammary Artery
Also called thoracic artery. Artery located in the chest wall and used for coronary artery bypass surgery. Most commonly kept intact at its origin, and sewn to the coronary artery beyond the site of blockage. If the surgeon removes the mammary artery from its origin to use as a bypass graft, it is then called a "free" mammary artery bypass graft.

Marfan Syndrome
A condition that affects the connective tissue. Connective tissue holds the body together and provides support to many structures throughout the body. In Marfan syndrome, the body's connective tissue isn't normal. As a result, many body systems are affected, including the heart,blood vessels, bones, tendons, cartilage, eyes, nervous system, skin and lungs.

Maze Procedure
The Maze procedure is a surgical treatment for chronic atrial fibrillation. The surgeon makes multiple incisions in the atrium to form a path or maze through which the impulse can travel to reach the atrioventricular node. After this is done the atrium is sewn back together and a normal rhythm is more easily maintained.

Mechanical Valve
In people who require heart valve replacement surgery, it is sometimes desirable to implant a mechanical valve. A mechanical valve is made of artificial parts and functions similarly to a normal heart valve. People who have a mechanical valve implanted must take blood thinners lifelong to prevent blood clots from forming on the mechanical valve.

Mediastinal Tumor
A benign or cancerous growth that forms in the area of the chest that separates the lungs (mediastinum).

A minimally invasive surgical technique used to treat some mediastinal tumors. During this procedure, a small incision is made through which an instrument is passed to biopsy lymph nodes in the chest cavity. This test is performed under general anesthesia in the operating room of a hospital and takes 1 to 2 hours (same day procedure).

A procedure in which a tube is inserted into the chest to view the organs in the mediastinum. The tube is inserted through an incision next to the breastbone.

The area of the chest that separates the lungs. It is surrounded by the breastbone in the front, the spine in the back and the lungs on each side. It contains the heart, aorta, esophagus, thymus and trachea.

Medical Student
A student in the third or fourth year of medical school training. The student doctor assists the primary and resident doctors in daily care of patients.

Mesenteric Arterial Ultrasound
A non-invasive imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the arteries supplying gastrointestinal tract to determine the presence of narrowing.

Metabolic Exercise Stress Test (also called metabolic stress test)
A test used to measure the performance of the heart and lungs while they are under physical stress. The test involves walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty, while being closely monitored.

The sum of all processes involved in converting nutrients into energy for use by the body.

An inorganic compound needed by the body for good health, proper metabolic functioning, and disease prevention. Examples are calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery
Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery is a technique developed to reduce the trauma associated with surgery. The incision through which the surgeon works is smaller. This smaller incision may allow the patient to heal more rapidly and decrease the time to recovery and full activity. It also helps to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with heart surgery.

Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery (MIS)
See video-assisted thoracic surgery.

Transient Ischemic attack

Mitral Insufficiency
Mitral insufficiency is a condition where blood in the left ventricle leaks back through the mitral valve into the left atrium and can back into the lungs. The mitral valve normally opens to allow blood to flow into the left ventricle and then closes, preventing blood from backing up into the atrium during the ventricle's contraction.

Mitral Stenosis
Mitral stenosis is a condition in where the mitral valve becomes narrowed or stenotic preventing the easy flow of blood from the left atrium into the left ventricle.

Mitral Valve
The mitral valve is the valve that lies between the left atrium and left ventricle (main pumping chamber of the heart). This valve allows blood to flow from the left atrium into the left ventricle and then prevents the back flow of blood into the left atrium during ventricular contraction.

mm Hg
An abbreviation that stands for "millimeters of mercury." Blood pressure is measured in mm Hg.

Monounsaturated Fat
A fat composed mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Morbidity Rate
The percentage of people who have complications after a procedure or treatment.

Mortality Rate
The percentage of deaths associated with a disease or medical treatment.

Motility Disorder
Also called esophageal motor disorder. A disorder affecting the movement of food from the esophagus to the stomach.

Mucus Clearing Device
Also called a PEP device. A device used to loosen mucus in the airways so it can be coughed up more easily.

Multigated Acquisition Scan (MUGA scan)
A nuclear scan that evaluates the pumping function of the ventricles.

Turbulent blood flow through a defective heart valve or narrowed chamber, creating a "swishing" sound heard by a stethoscope.

Myasthenia Gravis
A chronic disease characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of the voluntary muscles. The weakness is due to a breakdown in communication between a nerve ending and its adjoining muscle fiber. The onset of myasthenia gravis can be sudden, with severe and generalized muscle weakness, but more often its symptoms in the early stages are subtle and variable, making it difficult to diagnose correctly.

Myocardial Biopsy (cardiac biopsy)
An invasive procedure that involves using a bioptome (a small catheter with a grasping device on the end) to obtain a small piece of heart muscle tissue that is sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)
A sudden obstruction of blood flow through a coronary artery that results in the death of heart tissue. The immediate cause of a myocardial infarction is usually a thrombus that forms near the site of ruptured plaque.

An inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle)

Heart muscle. The muscular, middle layer of heart tissue that contracts rhythmically during heartbeat.

In patients with idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) also known as hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) one surgical option is to perform a myomectomy which is a resection of a thickened portion of the muscular septum thereby relieving the obstruction to blood flow in the left ventricle during contraction.

Letter N

Neurocardiogenic Syncope
(POTS - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, dysautonomia)

Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous syndrome. Causes symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and other symptoms. See syncope.

Nicotine is a substance found in cigarettes and considered an addictive drug. It causes changes in the brain that make people want to use it more and more. In addition, addictive drugs cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. (www.heart.org/HEARTORG)

National Institute of Health

Nissen Fundoplication
A minimally invasive procedure that corrects gastroesophageal reflux by creating an effective valve mechanism at the bottom of the esophagus.

A medication used to relax and dilate the blood vessels (vasodilator), improving blood flow. Nitroglycerin works very quickly and is the most common vasodilator used to treat angina (chest discomfort).

Failure to follow instructions given by health care providers, such as not taking medication as prescribed or not attending follow-up appointments.

Nonpenetrating. Noninvasive tests or procedures do not penetrate the body and are usually considered low-risk and painless.

Non-Q-wave MI
A MI or heart attack that does not cause changes on the electrocardiogram (ECG) however, chemical markers in the blood indicate that damage has occurred to the heart muscle. In non-Q-wave MI, a clot may block the coronary artery for a period of time, and then break up by itself or collateral circulation may help to restore blood flow to the area of ischemia (lack of blood supply). The size of damage is fairly small; therefore, overall function of the heart is usually maintained.

A hormone produced by the adrenal glands that also acts as a neurotransmitter for nerve cells. Part of the fight-or-flight response.

The National Organ Transplant Act, passed by Congress in 1984, outlawed the sale of human organs and initiated the development of a national system for organ sharing and a scientific registry to collect and report transplant data.

Nuclear Scan
Nuclear imaging is a method of producing images by detecting radiation from different parts of the body after the administration of a radioactive tracer material.

Letter O

Excess of body fat that is 20 percent or more over a person's ideal weight. Obesity strains the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and elevated lipid levels.

Complete blockage of a vessel.

Pain when swallowing.

Off Pump Heart Surgery
Off pump heart surgery, usually off pump coronary artery bypass, is heart surgery done without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

Ohio Solid Organ Transplantation Consortium (OSOTC)
An organization that establishes and enforces regulations to ensure equality in organ transplantation and fairness in distribution of donor organs.

The staff of the Ombudsman's office is available to patients and family members to help investigate and solve problems with medical service. The Ombudsman acts as a "go-between" for the patient and Cleveland Clinic. The ombudsmen report directly to key administrators and have the authority to investigate patient complaints. To contact an ombudsman, call 216.444.2544.

Omega 3 (Linolenic acid)
An essential fatty acid. Omega 3, which is found in fish and certain plants, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction by lowering triglyceride levels and blood pressure and preventing the formation of life-threatening thrombi.

Open Heart Surgery
Any of a number of invasive cardiac (heart) surgical procedures.

Organ Preservation
Between procurement from a donor and transplant, organs require special methods of preservation. The length of time that organs and tissues can be kept outside the body vary, depending on the organ, the preservation fluid and the temperature.

A severe weakening of bone

A process in which free radicals released during metabolism damage cells and the DNA that control cell growth. Oxidation can accelerate the process of atherosclerosis by damaging particles of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, making them more potent as a plaque builder.

Letter P

A small electronic device is implanted under the skin and sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and to prevent slow heart rates.

Palliative Care
Medical treatments intended to control suffering and discomfort (such as pain medication or treatment of an infection). These treatments will not cure the patient.

A fluttering sensation in the chest that is often related to a missed heart beat or rapid heartbeat.

Panel Reactive Antibody (PRA)
The percentage of cells from a panel of donors with which a potential recipient's blood serum reacts. The more antibodies in the recipient's blood, the higher the PRA. The higher the PRA, the less chance of getting a good crossmatch.

Papillary Muscles
Small muscles that are part of the inside walls of the ventricles and attach to the chordae tendineae.

Parenteral Nutrition
A method of providing food through a tube placed in the nose, the stomach or the small intestine. A tube in the nose is called a nasogastric or nasoenteral tube. A tube that goes through the skin into the stomach is called a gastrostomy or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). A tube into the small intestine is called a jejunostomy or percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ) tube. Also called tube feeding. See also gastrostomy and jejunostomy.

Parietal Pericardium
The fibrous outer layer of the pericardium

Patency Rate
The likelihood that a vessel will remain open.

Patient Service Representative
Members of this department can address or direct questions concerning hospital policies and procedures, secure patient valuables and belongings, and provide notary service.

Pectus Excavatum
Also known as sunken or funnel chest. A congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a concave, or caved-in, appearance to the front of the chest wall.

Penile Pulse Volume Recording
A procedure that tests the blood flow to the penis.

Pericardial Cavity
The space between the epicardium and the outer layer of the pericardium. The cavity is normally filled with a small amount of clear fluid that reduces the friction between the two membranes.

Pericardial Effusion
Presence of an abnormal amount and/or type of fluid in the pericardial space.

Pericardial Space
The space between the layers of the pericardium. It contains fluid that lubricates the membrane surfaces and allows easy heart movement.

Pericardiocentesis (pericardial tap)
An invasive procedure that involves using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac around the heart. The fluid may then be sent to a laboratory for tests to look for signs of infection or cancer.

An inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, usually accompanied by fluid buildup; can cause irregular heart beat.

The sac that surrounds the heart.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Damage or narrowing to the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to your arms, legs or organs.

Peripheral Intervention
An attempt to increase artery blood flow to a limb or organ by opening a narrowed area. A stent may be used to try to keep the artery open.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
Damage to or blockage in the veins that carry blood from your arms and legs back to your heart

The inner lining of the abdomen.

Permanently Unconscious State
A condition of coma in which a patient is irreversibly unaware of himself and his environment, and has a total loss of higher brain functioning, resulting in no capacity to experience pain or suffering.

Persistent Vegetative State
Same as "permanently unconscious state."

A medication specialist who checks your blood levels to monitor your response to immunosuppressive medications.

Physical Therapist
An expert who can recommend exercises to help you maintain flexibility and regain your strength.

An organic compound found in plants that is believed to play a role in preventing cardiovascular or other diseases.

Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins and calcium material along the lining of arteries, caused by atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery

Components of blood that aid in clotting.

Platelet Antagonist
A type of anticoagulant medication that prevents blood clotting by interfering with the activity of platelets, such as aspirin.

The thin membrane that lines the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity. The pleura acts as a lubricant to hep you breathe easily. Normally, very little fluid is present in the pleura.

Pleural Effusion
An excessive build-up of fluid between the layers of the pleura.

Pleural Mesothelioma
A rare form of cancer in which tumors form in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum). Most people with mesothelioma have worked in jobs where they breathed asbestos. Symptoms include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen.

Pleural Space
The cavity between the lung and the membrane that surrounds it.

Another term for minimally invasive thoracic surgery. See video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).

Surgical removal of a lung, usually as a treatment for cancer.

A group of diseases that cause infection or inflammation (swelling) in the lungs. Pneumonia causes air sacs in the lungs to fill with pus and other fluids, making it difficult for oxygen to reach the blood. People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious infection that affects thousands of older people each year.

A collection of air or gas in the space surrounding the lungs.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Also known as cardiac viability study. An imaging procedure that uses radioactive tracers to create three dimensional pictures of the tissues inside of the body and can monitor metabolic processes.

POTS - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome 
(neurocardiogenic syncope, dysautonomia)

Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous syndrome. Causes symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and other symptoms. See syncope.

Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)
An irregular heartbeat in which the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) beat before they are supposed to.

Pre-transplant Evaluation
A series of interviews and tests for patients who are being considered for a transplant. It is the second step in the transplant evaluation process. After this evaluation, the transplant team decides if a transplant is a suitable treatment.

Pre-transplant Screening
A series of interviews and physical examinations for patients who are being considered for a transplant. Pre-transplant screening is the first step in the transplant process to discover if a patient has any condition that would immediately rule him or her out for a transplant.

Prevention - Primary
Identifying and altering risk factors to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD) leading to heart attack or stroke. (www.heart.org/HEARTORG)

Prevention - Secondary
Identifying, treating and rehabilitating patients who has established heart disease (post bypass surgery, heart attack or stroke) or those at very high risk to prevent another cardiovascular or cerebrovascular event. (www.heart.org/HEARTORG)

Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
The pulmonary arteries are the arteries that direct the blood flow from the heart to the lungs. Some patients have high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and this is known as pulmonary hypertension.

Medications that help strengthen the LES and make the stomach empty faster. Prokinetics may be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and include bethanechol (Urecholine) and metoclopramide (Reglan).

A condition in which an organ or other part of the body is not in its correct position.

The prevention of disease.

A group of organic compounds composed of amino acids and rich in nitrogen, required for the growth and repair of tissue and the formation of hormones and enzymes.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Medications that control or eliminate acid by blocking the enzyme in the stomach that produces acid. Proton pump inhibitors may be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium).

A person appointed to make decisions for someone else, as in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also called a surrogate or agent).

Pulmonary Artery
The vessel through which the blood exits the right ventricle on its way to the lungs, where it receives oxygen.

Pulmonary Edema
An abnormal swelling of tissue in the lungs due to fluid build-up.

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
A clot in the lungs, most often caused by a deep vein thrombosis (clot in a vein in the legs) that has broken free and traveled to the lungs. Risk of PE decreases after blood-thinners are given.

Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)
A test used to reveal lung capacity and function, and to determine the blood's capacity to transport oxygen.

Pulmonary Hypertension
A rare lung disorder in which the arteries in the lungs have become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. Pulmonary Hypertension is high blood pressure of the pulmonary arteries.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation
A program that can help a patient learn how to breathe easier and improve quality of life. It includes treatment, exercise training, education and counseling.

Pulmonic Valve (also called pulmonary valve)
The valve that lies between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery (to the lungs).

A staff physician with extensive training in lung disease who specializes in caring for people with lung diseases and breathing problems.

Pulse Rate
The number of heartbeats per minute. The resting pulse rate for an average adult is between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Pulse Volume Recording (PVR)
A procedure that tests the arterial blood flow to the hands or feet. Often blood flow is checked after exercise.

Letter Q

Q-wave MI
A MI or heart attack that is caused by a prolonged period of blocked blood supply. An area of the heart muscle is affected, causing changes on the ECG as well as chemical markers in the blood.

Letter R

Radial Artery
The radial artery is the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood in the forearm. You can feel the pulse of the radial artery by feeling the forearm just underneath the thumb. There are three arteries in the normal forearm that carry blood to the hand.

Radioactive Tracer
A low-dose radioactive dye or contrast medium injected into a blood vessel as part of an imaging procedure.

An invasive procedure that involves heating tissue in order to destroy it.; used to treat some types of rapid heart rhythms.

Radionuclide Study (MUGA)
A nuclear scan that evaluates the pumping function of the ventricles. chambers and how your heart contracts. During this test, a small amount of radioactive isotope is injected in your bloodstream through an IV line and a scanner records its movement through the heart's ventricles.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon
Spasms of the small arteries of the fingers, and sometimes, the toes, brought on by exposure to cold or excitement.

Red Blood Cell (erythrocyte, red cell, red corpuscle)
Red blood cell that delivers oxygen to tissues and removes carbon dioxide and other waste products.

A patient who receives an organ, tissue or blood from another person.

Leaking or backward flow; the uncontrolled flow of stomach contents back into the esophagus and mouth.

Transplant rejection may occur when immune cells recognize the transplanted organ as different from the rest of the body. The process involves the body trying to get rid of this transplanted organ or tissue by producing antibodies. This is the body’s way of not accepting the new organ. Fortunately, rejection can be treated, especially if the signs of rejection are recognized early. Immunosuppressive drugs help to prevent rejection.

Renal Artery Disease
Most commonly caused by atherosclerosis of the renal arteries (see above). It occurs in people with generalized vascular disease.

Renal Artery Stenosis
Narrowing or blockage of an artery to the kidney which may lead to high blood pressure or kidney damage.

Renal Artery Ultrasound
A non-invasive imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the arteries supplying the kidneys to determine the presence of narrowing.

An enzyme produced by the kidney. Renin is released into the bloodstream by the kidneys in order to regulate blood pressure

A repeat surgery, or duplication of a previous procedure. The repeat surgery may involve surgery at the same site, at another site for the same condition, or to repair a feature from a previous surgery.

Required Request
Hospitals must tell the families of suitable donors that their loved one's organs and tissues can be used for transplant. This law is expected to increase the number of donated organs and tissues used for transplantation.

Resident Physician
A doctor who works closely with the primary physician to manage a patient's daily care. The resident is a licensed medical school graduate doing further training in one of the specialties of medicine.

Rest Pain
Near constant pain in the hand or foot because of decreased artery blood flow.

The closing or narrowing of an artery that was previously opened by a cardiac procedure such as angioplasty.

Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory reaction of the heart, usually involving the valves as a consequence of streptococcal infection.

Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic Fever can lead to a condition known as rheumatic heart disease. This is usually a thickening and stenosis of one or more of the heart valves and often requires surgery, to repair or replace the involved valve (s).

Rheumatic Valve Disease
Rheumatic Valve Disease is a consequence of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic valve disease is a thickening and stenosis of one or more of the heart valves and often requires surgery to repair or replace the affected valve(s).

Due to organ rejection or transplant failure, some patients return to the waiting list. Reducing the number of retransplants is a critical concern when examining ways to maximize a limited supply of organs.

Right Ventricular Biopsy
The removal of a small piece of heart tissue from your right ventricle. This tissue sample is studied under a microscope to help your doctor assess your heart muscle.

Risk Factor (for heart disease)
Traits people have that are linked to the development and progression of coronary artery disease.
Modifiable risk factors -- related to lifestyle and may be changed or controlled
Non-modifiable risk factors--- related to aging and genetics; cannot be changed

Rotoblation (PCRA - Percutaneous Transluminal Rotational Atherectomy)
A special catheter, with an acorn-shaped diamond-coated tip, is guided to the point of narrowing in the coronary artery. The tip spins around at a high speed and grinds away the plaque on the artery walls. The microscopic particles are washed safely away in your blood stream and filtered out by the liver and spleen. This process is repeated as needed to allow better blood flow.


Letter S

Saphenous Vein
Vein located in the leg(s) and used for coronary artery bypass surgery. It is surgically removed from the leg and sewn from the aorta to the coronary artery beyond the site of blockage.

Saturated Fat
A fat composed mostly of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fat is the most important dietary factor in raising cholesterol levels.

Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure of the pulmonary arteries. Secondary hypertension is a disease process which reduces the blood supply to the lungs such as a blood clot (pulmonary emboli).

Potential recipients are "sensitized" if there are antibodies in their blood, usually because of pregnancy, blood transfusions or previous rejection of an organ transplant. Sensitization is measured by PRA. Highly sensitized patients are more likely to reject an organ transplant than unsensitized patients.

A serious infection in the bloodstream

Septal Defect
A hole or "defect" is in the heart muscle forming a wall between the left and right side of the heart. Can be an atrial septal defect (ASD) or ventricular septal defect (VSD).

The muscular wall separating the right and left sides of the heart.

Sestamibi Exercise Stress Test
(sestamibi stress test, stress perfusion scan, stress Sestamibi)

A diagnostic study, which uses a small amount of radioactive tracer, injected into the body, and a special camera, which detects the radiation, released by the substance to produce a computer image of the heart. Combined with exercise, the study can help determine if there is adequate blood flow to the heart at rest, as compared with activity.

Side Effect
An unintended effect of a drug on tissues or organs other than the drug benefits.

Silent Ischemia
Inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart that does not cause symptoms such as chest pain.

Sinoatrial Node (SA or sinus node)
A specialized cluster of cells in the heart that initiates the heart beat. Known as the heart's natural pacemaker.

Sleep Apnea
A sleep disorder in which a person's breathing stops in intervals that may last from 10 seconds to a minute or longer. When an apneic event occurs, air exchange may be impaired.

A mineral found in most of the foods we eat. The largest source of dietary sodium comes from sodium chloride or table salt. Intake of sodium tends to increase the retention of water.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which refers to how high the pressure in the arteries can raise a column of mercury in a sphygmomanometer, a device for measuring blood pressure.

Spirometry Test
A breathing test that provides information about lung function and the extent of a patient’s lung disease.

Indicated degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting transplants.

Narrowing or restriction of a blood vessel or valve that reduces blood flow.

A small wire mesh tube, inserted after angioplasty that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside the artery.

A type of surgical procedure in which an incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is divided, or "cracked". This procedure provides access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures.

Sternum (breastbone)
Bone in chest separated during open heart surgery.

Stress Test
See exercise stress test

Also called cerebral vascular accident or CVA. Impaired artery blood flow to the brain. During a stroke, brain cells in the affected area are starved for oxygen and subsequently die.

Stunned Myocardium
If blood flow is returned to an area of heart muscle after a period of ischemia (lack of blood supply), the heart muscle may not pump normally for a period of days following the event. This is called "stunned" heart muscle or myocardium.

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis
Subvalvular aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the flow of blood below the aortic valve in the left ventricle. It is usually caused by a membrane or thickening in the muscle in this area.

Sudden Cardiac Death
A sudden, unexpected death caused by loss of heart function. Most sudden cardiac deaths are caused by arrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation.

Superficial Thrombophlebitis
A clot in a superficial vein, just under the skin.

Survival Rates
Survival rates indicate the percentage of patients or grafts (transplanted organs) that are still alive functioning at a certain point posttransplant. Survival rates are often given at one-, three-, and five-year increments. Policy modifications are never made without examining their impact on transplant survival rates. Survival rates improve with technological and scientific advancements. Developing policies that reflect and respond to these advances in transplantation will also improve survival rates.

Fainting or dizziness.

Syndrome X
A cluster of risk factors that together, put someone at higher risk of coronary artery disease. These risk factors include: central obesity (excessive fat tissue in the abdominal region), glucose intolerance, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Systemic Circulation
The circulation of blood from the left ventricle, through an extensive network of vessels that penetrate every part of the body, to the right side of the heart.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosis - SLE (lupus)
A chronic autoimmune disorder in which a person's natural antibodies, which normally fight infection, damage parts of the central nervous system, connective tissue, or internal organs such as the lungs or kidneys. Lupus can cause heart valve disorders.

The portion of the cardiac cycle in which the heart muscle contracts, forcing the blood into the main blood vessels.

The top number in a blood pressure reading that indicates the force of the heart muscle's contractions as blood is pumped through the heart's chambers

Systolic Pressure
The pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart pumps. It is the higher of two blood pressure measurements, e.g., 120/80, where 120 is the systolic pressure.

Letter T

Rapid heart beat. A heart rate above 100 beats per minute.

Terminal Condition
An irreversible, incurable, and untreatable condition from which there can be no recovery, and death is likely to occur soon. Nursing and medical efforts are administered to provide comfort.

Thallium Exercise Stress Test (stress thallium test, perfusion scan)
A type of nuclear scanning technique that uses the radioactive substance thallium. A thallium stress test combines nuclear scanning with exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to assess heart function and determine if there is adequate flood flow to the myocardium.

Procedure used to drain fluid from the chest, such as a pleural effusion.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic aneurysms that occur in the chest area that may involve the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch or descending aorta.

Thoracic Cavity
The area of the body located between the neck and diaphragm. The thoracic cavity includes the heart and lungs, esophagus, trachea, pleura (lining of the thoracic cavity) mediastinum (space behind the sternum and in between the lungs) chest wall diaphragm (thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen)

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
A group of distinct disorders that affect the nerves in the brachial plexus (nerves that pass into the arms from the neck) and various nerves and blood vessels between the base of the neck and axilla (armpit).

Thoracic Surgeon
A surgeon who specializes in treating problems that affect all organs in the chest (thoracic) cavity, such as cancers and diseases of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels; birth defects of the chest; and tumors in the organs contained in the chest cavity. The highly-specialized team of thoracic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic has among the largest experience in the country in diagnosing and surgically treating diseases of the lung and esophagus. Thoracic surgeons work closely with specialists from other areas, including pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, thoracic anesthesiologists and medical and radiation oncologists, to provide a collaborative approach to your diagnosis and treatment.

Thoracic Surgery
A surgical field focusing on treatments for lung cancer, tumors of the chest wall, emphysema, esophageal swallowing problems, lung transplantation, esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux.

Video imaging of the chest cavity and lung performed through a 5mm-10mm (1/4 inch) camera. Thorascopy is an essential component of minimally invasive chest surgery (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery-VATS).

Thoracotomy Surgery
A type of surgery in which an incision is made on the side of the chest between the ribs. The ribs are then spread apart so the surgeon can see inside the chest cavity.

Small video-scope used during video-assisted thoracic surgery to project images on a video screen for the surgeon to view during the procedure.

Thoracostomy, chest tube
A procedure performed to drain fluid, blood or air from the space around the lungs (pleural space).

Area of the body located between the neck and abdomen. The thorax contains the heart, lungs, esophagus and great vessels surrounded by the breastbone or sternum in front, the ribs on each side, and the spine in the back.

Also called a platelet. Component of blood that aids in clotting.

Thoracic Outlet Testing
A procedure that tests blood flow to the arms and hands in various positions. Used to rule out thoracic outlet syndrome.

Thrombolytic Medication (clot-buster drug)
Medication used during a heart attack to dissolve any clots in the coronary arteries that may be blocking blood flow.

A blood clot.

A yeast infection for which transplant patients are at risk. It can occur in the mouth or vagina.

Disease in which cancerous (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the thymus.

Small organ located in the upper/front portion of the chest, extending from the base of the throat to the front of the heart. The cells of the thymus form a part of the body's normal immune system. Early in life, the thymus plays an important role in the development of the immune system.

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA)
A clot dissolving agent that is injected directly into a clogged artery to break up a blood clot. If used within 3 hours after the start of a stroke, brain damage may be avoided.

Tissue Typing
A test that evaluates the compatibility or closeness of tissue between the organ donor and recipient.

TPN - Total Parenteral Nutrition
A special intravenous (IV) solution providing hydration, vitamins, minerals and calories to sustain life. This IV is usually inserted into a large vein in the neck area.

Total Cholesterol
The total amount of cholesterol in the blood.

Total Lung Capacity Test
A test that measures the amount of air in the lungs after a person has breathed in as much as possible.

Also called the “windpipe.” The main airway (windpipe) supplying air to both lungs.

Tracheal Stricture
A narrowing in the trachea that restricts air flow to the lungs.

Small opening or incision made in the throat. Through the tracheostomy, a tube is placed to aid breathing for patients who may need to be supported longer than expected with mechanical ventilation. Instead of breathing through the nose and mouth, the patient then breathes through the tracheostomy or “trach.”

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
An invasive imaging procedure that creates a picture of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high frequency sound waves that come from a small transducer passed down your throat. TEE provides clear images of the heart's movement because the transducer is close to the heart and limits interference from air in the lungs. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, also called a mini-stroke)
A sudden onset of temporary symptoms (loss of sensation, movement, speech, mental function or vision) lasting minutes, or hours, that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen-rich blood but, the effects wear off completely after resumption of blood-flow. It can be a warning sign for stroke. May be caused by carotid artery narrowing or blockage.

Trans-Myocardial Revascularization (TMR)
In patients with severe ischemic heart disease who are not candidates for bypass surgery, it is possible to do a procedure called trans-myocardial laser revascularization. In this procedure, an incision is made in the chest. The heart is exposed and small holes are drilled through the wall of the heart, with a laser allowing blood to flow from the inner chamber of the heart into the muscle of the heart. This procedure is still considered experimental and can be used only in a small number of patients.

Transplant Coordinator
A registered nurse who coordinates all of the events leading up to and following your transplant. The transplant coordinator helps arrange your pre-transplant tests and helps find a suitable donor.

Transplant Surgeon
The staff physician who performs the transplant surgery. The transplant surgeon follows your progress while you are in the hospital and monitors your post-transplant care after you are discharged.

Transtelephonic Monitor
A small monitor is attached to electrode leads (usually on your finger or wrist. Your heart's rhythm is transmitted over the phone line with the aid of this device to your doctor's office.

Tricuspid Valve
The tricuspid valve is the valve that separates the right atrium from the right ventricle and prevents blood from flowing back into the right atrium during contraction of the ventricle.

A fat found in the blood. Most fat found in the diet and body fat is in the form of triglycerides.

Tube Feeding (enteral feeding)
A temporary artificial method of providing food through a tube inserted into the stomach. This food is in a liquid form and contains calories, vitamins and electrolytes. Enteral feeding may be necessary when food cannot be taken by mouth.

Letter U

Break in the skin, usually on lower legs or fingers, related to poor circulation and blood pooling.

United Network for Organ Sharing – the national nonprofit agency that establishes and enforces regulations to ensure equality in organ transplantation and fairness in distribution of donor organs.

U.S. Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients
A database of post-transplant information. Follow-up data on every transplant are used to track transplant center performance, transplant success rates and medical issues impacting transplant recipients. UNOS facilitates the collection, tracking and reporting of transplant recipient and donor data.

Unstable Angina
This type of angina is considered an acute coronary syndrome. It may be a new symptom or a change from stable angina. It may come more often, occur at rest, or feel more severe. Although this angina can be relieved with oral medications, it is unstable and may progress to a heart attack. Usually medical treatment or a procedure is required in the near future.

Upper GI (Gastrointestinal) Series
A series of x-rays used to evaluate the upper gastrointestinal system (the esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine) to detect abnormalities.

Letter V

There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid and the mitral valve, which lie between the atria and ventricles and the pulmonic and aortic valves which lie between the ventricles and the blood vessels leaving the heart. The heart valves help to maintain one-way blood flow through the heart.

Balloon valvotomy is when a balloon is used to at the time of cardiac catheterization to increase the area of a narrowed valve.

A procedure to improve valve function.

Variant Angina
A type of angina that occurs at rest. Most often due to coronary spasm.

A type of medication that relaxes and dilates the blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow.

Vasospastic Disorders
Conditions caused by spasm of blood vessels, causing them to clamp down (constrict) or open up (dilate). Examples include Raynaud's Disease, Erythromelalgia, Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome.

Blood vessels that carry blood from the arms, legs, head and body organs back to the heart.

Vena Cava
The two large veins that collect blood returning from all parts of the body and return it to the heart (right atrium) The inferior vena cava brings blood from the lower half of the body; and the superior vena cava brings blood from the upper half.

Venous Duplex Ultrasound
A non-invasive imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to determine the presence of clots in the arms or legs.

Venous Thrombosis
A blockage in a vein caused by a thrombus.

A machine used to assist or control breathing (may be called a respirator).

The lower, pumping chambers of the heart. The heart has two ventricles - the right and left ventricle.

Ventricular Fibrillation
An erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles. The ventricles quiver and are unable to contract or pump blood to the body. This is a medical emergency that must be treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation as soon as possible.

Ventricular Rupture
In patients who suffer a significant heart attack, it is sometimes the case that the area of the muscle wall of the heart that is affected can become so weakened that it ruptures and leaks blood from the inner chamber of the heart.

Ventricular Septal Defect
The right and left ventricles lie next to each other in the heart. The septum is the membranous wall that separates them. A ventricular septal defect is a hole in the septum.

Ventricular Tachycardia
A rapid life-threatening rhythm originating from the lower chambers of the heart. The rapid rate prevents the heart from filling adequately with blood, and less blood is able to pump through the body.

Video-assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
Surgery of the chest that is performed with a thoracoscope (small video-scope) using small incisions and special instruments to minimize trauma. During thoracoscopic surgery, three small (approximately 1-inch) incisions are used as compared with one long 6- to 8-inch incision that is used during traditional, “open” thoracic surgery. As compared with traditional surgery, patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery experience decreased postoperative pain, shorter hospital stay and a more rapid recovery and return to work. Other possible benefits include reduced risk of infection and less bleeding.

Video-assisted Lobectomy Surgery (VATS lobectomy)
A minimally invasive surgical technique that is less invasive than traditional thoracotomy surgery. During VATS lobectomy surgery, three 1-inch incisions and one 3- to 4-inch incision are made to provide access to the chest cavity without spreading of the ribs. With VATS lobectomy, the patient may experience a more rapid recovery with less pain and a shorter hospital stay (usually 3 days) than traditional thoracotomy surgery.

One of the organic compounds needed by the body for good health, proper metabolic functioning and disease prevention.

Letter W

Waiting List
After evaluation by the transplant physician, and after committee presentation, a patient is added to the national waiting list by the transplant center. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type: heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, intestine, heart-lung, kidney-pancreas. Each time a donor organ becomes available, the computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include blood type, organ size, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. A "new" United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list is generated each time an organ becomes available. There are many factors that go into the actual decision of donor selection and recipient matching. Although your place on the list and the amount of time you have been waiting for transplant are important factors, the transplant surgeon ultimately is the one to make the final decision.

Wedge Resection
Surgical removal of a wedge-shaped portion of tissue from one, or both, lungs. A wedge resection is typically performed for the diagnosis or treatment of small lung nodules.

Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW)
WPW is a form of supraventricular tachycardia (fast heart rate originating above the ventricles). When you have WPW, along with your normal conduction pathway, you have extra pathways called accessory pathways. These electrical impulses set up a short circuit causing the heart to beat rapidly and conduct impulses in both directions. The impulses travel through the extra pathway (short cut) as well as the normal AV-HIS Purkinje system. The impulses can travel around the heart very quickly, in a circular pattern, causing the heart to beat unusually fast. This is called re-entry tachycardia.

Reviewed: 10/12

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