Medical Terms we Can Understand

ANGIOTENSIN-CONVERTING ENZYME (ACE) INHIBITOR--A drug used to decrease pressure inside blood vessels.

ARRHYTHMIA--An irregular heartbeat.

BETA BLOCKER--A drug used to slow the heart rate and reduce pressure inside blood vessels. It also can regulate heart rhythm.

CALCIUM-CHANNEL BLOCKER (OR CALCIUM BLOCKER)--A drug used to relax the blood vessel and heart muscle, causing pressure inside blood vessels to drop. It also can regulate heart rhythm.

CARDIAC ARREST--A sudden stop of heart function. See also "sudden death."

CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION--A procedure in which a thin, hollow tube is inserted into a blood vessel. The tube is then advanced through the vessel into the heart, enabling a physician to study the heart and its pumping activity.

CARDIOMYOPATHY--A disease of the heart muscle (myocardium).

CONGESTION--Abnormal fluid accumulation in the body, especially the lungs.

DIGITALIS--A drug used to increase the force of the heart's contraction and to regulate specific irregularities of heart rhythm.

DILATED CARDIOMYOPATHY--Heart muscle disease that leads to enlargement of the heart's chambers, robbing the heart of its pumping ability.

DIURETIC--A drug that helps eliminate excess body fluid; usually used in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure.

DYSPNEA--Shortness of breath.

ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY--A test that bounces sound waves off the heart to produce pictures of its internal structures.

EDEMA--Abnormal fluid accumulation in body tissues. Retaining fluid.

ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (EKG, or ECG)--Measurement of electrical activity during heartbeats.

HEART FAILURE--Loss of pumping ability by the heart, often accompanied by fatigue, breathlessness, and excess fluid.

HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY--Heart muscle disease that leads to thickening of the heart walls, interfering with the heart's ability to fill with and pump blood.

IDIOPATHIC--Results from an unknown cause.

LEFT VENTRICULAR ASSIST DEVICE (LVAD)--A mechanical device used to increase the heart's pumping ability.

PULMONARY CONGESTION (OR EDEMA)--Fluid accumulation in the lungs.

RESTRICTIVE CARDIOMYOPATHY--Heart muscle disease in which the muscle walls become stiff and lose their flexibility.

SEPTUM--In the heart, a muscle wall separating the chambers.

SUDDEN DEATH--Cardiac arrest caused by an irregular heartbeat. The term "death" is somewhat misleading, because some patients survive.

VENTRICLES--The two lower chambers of the heart. The left ventricle is the main pumping chamber in the heart.

VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION--Rapid, irregular quivering of the heart's ventricles, with no effective heartbeat.

Information was courtesy of Planet RX and Medscape.

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Last Modified on August 15, 2001