Glossary

Aldosterone Antagonists

These drugs are diuretics, but have additional properties to make your heart work better, such as reversing scarring of the heart

Angioplasty

See Percutaneous Coronary Intervention

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

These drugs widen blood vessels to lower blood pressure, improve circulation and ease the work of the heart

Angiotenin Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

ARBs offer many of the same benefits as ACE inhibitors and may be a good choice for people who cannot take ACE inhibitors

Atria

The two upper chambers of the heart that receive blood from around the body and from the lungs

Beta Blockers

These drugs slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and may reduce the signs and symptoms of heart failure

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)

CRT is used to treat heart failure. CRT stimulates both of the heart’s lower chambers (and often one upper chamber) so they are “synchronized” and more efficient in pumping blood to the body. A pacemaker or implantable defibrillator are placed next to the heart’s tissue and deliver specially timed pacing pulses to the heart

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Pacemaker (CRT-P)

Like a traditional pacemaker, a CRT-P keeps the heart from beating too slowly. Unlike a traditional pacemaker, a CRT-P has an additional lead placed on the left side of the heart to make the left ventricle beat at the same time as the right

Cardiac Surgeon

A surgeon who performs cardiac surgery—operative procedures on the heart

Cardiologist

A doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with heart conditions

Chest X-ray

A radiographic image of your heart and lungs, including their size and shape

Congestive Heart Failure

A failure of the heart to pump blood to the body’s organ systems and maintain their function

CRT Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) with Pacing Capabilities (CRT-D)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator that includes a pacing feature to help resynchronize (coordinate) the lower heart chambers (ventricles). It is also known as an ICD-CRT, ICD with biventricular pacing, or heart failure ICD

Defibrillation

The use of an unsynchronized (not specifically timed) shock to stop fast heart rhythms

Diagnostic Procedures

Tests that are conducted to diagnose a heart rhythm disorder

Digitalis

Digitalis strengthens the contraction of the heart muscle and slows the heart rate

Diuretics

These medications make you urinate more often to keep fluid from collecting in your body

Echocardiogram (or Echo)

An image of the heart using echocardiography or sound wave-based technology. An echocardiogram shows a three-dimensional image of the heart

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Records the electrical activity within the heart

Electrophysiologist

A cardiologist who has specialized in the electrical activity of the heart, meaning the heart’s rhythm and disorders

Electrophysiology Testing

Reproducing arrhythmias in a controlled setting to determine where in the heart they begin

General Practitioner

A doctor who provides care for people of all ages and for a variety of medical conditions. The general practitioner may refer to appropriate specialists

General Surgeon

This is a doctor who treats a variety of conditions with surgery

Heart Attack

Occurs when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked by a blood clot; the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked, causing part of the heart muscle to die

Heart Failure

A failure of the heart to pump blood to the body’s organ systems and maintain their function

Heart Transplant

A heart transplant is a surgery that results in a replacement heart

Heart Valve Repair or Replacement

This surgical procedure repairs or replaces a damaged heart valve. A repair may require placing a surgical balloon in the valve and inflating it in an attempt to increase the opening of the valve to improve blood flow through the valve. A surgeon also may repair the valve by tightening or replacing an annuplasty ring around the valve. A valve also can be replaced with a mechanical or a tissue valve

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator used to sense the heart’s rhythm and treat serious rapid heart rhythms (ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia). The treatment of these rhythms can either be by delivering rapid pacing pulses during the fast heart rhythm or by delivering a shock to the heart

Internist

A doctor of internal medicine who focuses on adult medicine and has had special study and training focusing on the prevention and treatment of adult diseases

Interventional Cardiologist

A doctor who specializes in catheter-based treatment of coronary artery diseases. From outside the body, they insert various small instruments or tools, such as catheters or wires, using X-ray and other imaging techniques

Interventional Radiologist

An interventional radiologist specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments. From outside the body, they insert various small instruments or tools, such as catheters or wires, using X-ray and other imaging techniques. Interventional radiology can be an alternative to surgical treatment

Invasive Procedure

A procedure that enters the body usually by cutting or puncturing the skin or inserting instruments into the body

Left-sided Heart Failure

The most common form of heart failure, it occurs when the left side of the heart must work harder to pump the same amount of blood

Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs)

A mechanical pump is implanted into the abdomen or chest and attached to a weak heart to help it pump

Less Invasive Procedure

A procedure that is performed using a small incision and specialized equipment

Pacemaker

A small metal device implanted under the skin, which produces electrical impulses to treat an abnormal heart rhythm

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)

Also called agioplasty, PCI is a surgical procedure designed to improve the blood supply to your heart muscle. A small tube called a catheter with a tiny deflated balloon on the end is inserted through an incision in the groin area and pushed through to the blocked artery. The balloon is inflated to push open the artery and the balloon is removed when the artery is fully opened. A mesh tube called a stent may be placed during the procedure to keep the blood vessel open

Pulmonary Artery (PA) Pressure

A measurement of blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, which carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. A high reading can indicate worsening heart failure, even before other symptoms are present.

Right-sided Heart Failure

This usually occurs as a result of left-sided failure. When the left ventricle fails, increased fluid pressure is forced back through the lungs, damaging the heart’s right side. With the right side loss of pumping power, blood backs up in the veins, often causing swelling in the ankles and legs

Stress Test

Involves exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike while an electrocardiogram monitors heart activity

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

When the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly

Vasodilators

Vasodilators open up—or dilate—your blood vessels. By relaxing the muscles in the walls of your arteries, blood flows more easily through the arteries so your heart doesn't have to pump as hard

Ventricles

The two lower chambers of the heart; the right ventricle pumps blood into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps blood around the body