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.
Treatment provided in addition to the primary treatment to prevent cancer recurrence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
A condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach or esophagus are breathed into the airways.
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 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.
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)