Patient CHD

Medical language sometimes seems foreign and obscure. Many words do come from classical Latin or Greek because these "dead" languages will not change. In ancient Rome the entrance hall of a home was called an atrium. Doctors now use that word to describe the chambers where blood enters the heart. The words used by a cardiologist to describe your heart and health are chosen with great care. These terms have very precise meanings. They are very specific so as to be accurate in relaying information.

Angiogram An x-ray picture of the blood vessels of the heart and its blood vessels.
Angiography The process where dye is injected into the heart or blood vessels so that an x-ray picture can be taken.
Anticoagulants Drugs that slow the clotting of blood.
Aorta The main artery that receives oxygenated blood from the left ventricle of the heart and distributes it to all parts of the body, except for the lungs.
Aortic stenosis (AS) A narrowing of the aortic valve combined with a thickening or stiffening of its cusps (flaps or leaflets).
Aortic valve The valve, normally having three cusps (flaps), lying between theleft ventricle and the aorta. It allows the flow of blood into the major artery taking blood away from the heart.
Arrhythmia (also known as dysrhythmia) An abnormal rhythm of the heart beat. It is not necessarily dangerous or even significant.
Artery A vessel that carries bloodaway from the heart. Arteries are high-pressure blood vessels in which you can find a pulse. An artery has a thicker wall and smaller inside diameter than a vein.
Atresia (also atretic) The absence of a normal opening.
Atrial fibrillation Rapid, irregular contractions of the atria followed by the irregular contractions of the ventricles.
Atrial septal defect (ASD) An abnormal opening in the wall (septum) between the two atria.
Atrioventricular septal defect A complex defect affecting both the upper and lower chambers of the heart, or a large central hole in the atrial and ventricular septum that may involve the mitral and tricuspid valves.
Atrium (plural atria). One of the two upper chambers of the heart. The left and right atria are divided by a wall called theinteratrial septum.
Blood pressure The force or pressure exerted by the heart in pumping blood, or the pressure of blood as measured in the arteries.
Bradycardia A heart rhythm that is slow.
Cardiac (kardia is the Greek word for heart) Concerning the heart.
Cardiology The study of the heart and its functions in health and disease.
Cardiovascular Concerning the heart and blood vessels.
Coarctation of the aorta A constriction of the aorta that obstructs the flow of blood to the body.
Congenital Existing before or at birth (not necessarily inherited).
Congenital heart defect (CHD) A condition, existing at the time of birth, in which the heart or its major blood vessels are not formed properly and do not work as they should.
Congestive heart failure The inability of the heart to pump out all the blood that returns to it. This may result in blood backing up in the veins that lead to the heart, or in fluid building up in various parts of the body (lungs, liver and legs).
Connective tissue The supporting tissues of the body.
Coronary artery disease Blockage of the arteries that serve the needs of the heart muscle.
Cyanosis A blue colour of the skin caused by a shortage of oxygen in the blood.
Digoxin A drug often used in treating congestive heart failure. It makes the contraction of the heart muscle stronger. It is also used to treat some arrhythmias.
Diuretic A drug that increases urine output. It promotes the excretion of water and salts.
Doppler A form of ultrasound. Doppler effect creates an image by bouncing sound waves off an object. It is used to assess the characteristics of blood flow.
Down's syndrome A number of problems in development occurring from a chromosomal abnormality. These include moderate to severe mental retardation, short fingers, and a mongoloid appearance.
Dysrhythmia See arrhythmia.
Echocardiography A diagnostic method in which pulses of sound are transmitted into the body. The echoes returning from the surfaces of the heart and other structures are plotted and recorded as an electronic picture.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) A graphic record of electrical impulses produced by the heart.
Endocarditis An inflammation or infection of the inner lining (endocardium) of the heart or heart valves.
Heart catheterization An examination of the heart by inserting a thin tube (catheter) into a vein or artery and passing it into the heart. This technique is used to measure oxygen levels and pressures in the heart, and to make x-ray movies. Catheters are also used in some heart repair procedures.
High blood pressure (commonly called hypertension) Blood pressure that is consistently above the normal range.
Holter monitor A tape recording of the ECG (electrocardiogram) usually taken over a 24-hour period.
Inferior vena cava Major vein leading to the right atrium of the heart. It brings low-oxygen blood from the lower parts of the body (abdomen and legs).
Magnetic resonance imaging A diagnostic technique that uses magnetism. It produces images of the body's internal structures.
Marfan syndrome A rare inherited disease that affects connective tissue. It produces abnormalities in the eyes, skeleton, heart and blood vessels.
Mitral valve The heart valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. It has two flaps or cusps.
Pacemaker An electrical device that can be used to replace a defective natural pacemaker. The artificial pacemaker controls the heart's beating and rhythm by emitting a series of electrical discharges. The 'natural' pacemaker of the heart is called the sinus node. The sinus node is a small mass of special cells in the top of the right atrium. These cells send out electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract or 'beat'.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) In a fetus and new-born baby, a normal opening is present between the pulmonary artery and the aorta. It should naturally close soon after birth.Patent ductus arteriosus occurs when this opening does not close.
Prophylaxis (phylax is the Greek word for advance guard) A preventive measure.
Pulmonary Concerning the lungs.
Pulmonary artery The large artery that takes low-oxygen blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
Pulmonary atresia (PA) Absence of the pulmonary valve.
Pulmonary stenosis (PS) A narrowing of the pulmonary valve.
Pulmonary (pulmonic) valve The heart valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery. The pulmonary valve has three flaps or cusps.
Pulmonary veins These blood vessels bring oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to theleft atrium.
Regurgitation The abnormal backward flowing of blood through a valve of the heart.
Septum A wall that divides the right and left sides of the heart. The atrial septum separates the top chambers and the ventricular septumseparates the bottom chambers.
Stenosis The narrowing or constriction of an opening, e.g., a heart valve.
Superior vena cava Major vein leading to the right atrium of the heart. It brings low-oxygen blood from the upper part of the body (head and arms).
Systemic lupus erythmatosus A recurring illness of the connective tissue associated with the immune system.
Tachycardia A heart rhythm that is fast.
Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) A condition in which the aorta arises from the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery arises from the left ventricle. In a normal heart these connections are reversed.
Tricuspid valve The valve between the right atrium and right ventricle. It has three flaps or cusps.
Ultrasound High-frequency sound vibrations used to create images that help in medical diagnosis. Echocardiography, which shows a picture of the heart, and the Doppler test, which analyzes blood flow, both use ultrasound.
Valve A structure made up of membrane flaps that lies between two chambers of the heart, or between a chamber of the heart and a blood vessel. Open valves allow blood flow in only one direction. Closed valves normally prevent blood from passing through an opening.
Vascular Concerning the blood vessels.
Vein A blood vessel that carries low-oxygen (blue) blood back to the heart. The walls of veins are thin and contain less muscle tissue than arteries.
Ventricle A pumping chamber of the heart. The right ventricle pumps blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, and the left ventriclepumps blood out through the aorta to the body.
Ventricular septal defect (VSD) A defect, or hole, existing in the septum (wall) between theventricles.