Copy of `British Cardiac Patients Association - Cardiology terms`

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British Cardiac Patients Association - Cardiology terms
Category: Health and Medicine > heart issues
Date & country: 19/11/2007, UK
Words: 152


Omega‑3
are a group of long-chain fatty acids, and known to reduce the risk of heart disease. They are lipid-regulating; and they lower the level of triglycerides; so after a heart attack they reduce the risk of further heart attacks and increase overall survival.

Pain
is a sensation of hurting or discomfort resulting from illness, injury, heat, an allergic reaction, or something being wrong in some part of the body. It forms part of the body's warning system intended to prevent further discomfort or injury, and generally to alert the person to the need to do something about it.

pH
stands for potential of hydrogen, which is a measure of how acid or alkaline a liquid is. Pure water has a pH value of 7; acids are less than 7; and alkalines are more than 7. See also under Protein.

Placebo
A placebo is a medicine, tablet or treatment that has no active ingredient, typically given to a control group in a trial of a drug, so each patient does not know what he or she is receiving.

Plaque
is a deposit of fatty substances on the inside of an artery wall. Plaques may become unstable and rupture or breakup, causing damage to the blood vessel wall. The body responds to the breakup by making platelets clump together to producing a clot, a thrombus, and this may cause a partial or complete blockage.

Platelet
Platelets are small disc-shaped blood structures that are involved in blood clotting. They stick together to form the clot. See Thrombosis and antiplatelet drug.

Posterior
means situated at or towards the back of the body. Opposite of Anterior. Also see Dorsal.

Primary prevention
means preventing a disease before it happens. Compare Secondary prevention.

Proposition
A proposition is a proposal or statement made for consideration, particularly a statement that affirms or denies something.

Proteins
Meat, fish, dairy products, and some other foods contain proteins of various kinds.

Pulmonary
means associated with the lungs.

Pulmonary embolism
means a blood clot on the lungs, which can be a cause of death. See Embolus.

Pulmonary vein
The pulmonary veins are the four veins that take oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the heart.

Pulse
This has two meanings.

Range
The range of a variable means either the set of allowable values; or the set of values actually occurring, observed, or calculated.

Reference Nutrient Intake
, RNI. The RNI gives for each* vitamin and mineral the recommended amount for different ages from babies to adults; and where appropriate the different amounts for eg pregnant or nursing mothers. This is the amount of each nutrient that is adequate to prevent deficiencies in 97.5% of the UK population. *For some vitamins and minerals no recommendation is needed or given. The source is Department of Health.

Refusal
A patient may refuse a particular treatment, or make a living will. Certain conditions apply. Medics, first aiders, and carers must then comply with the refusal. For fuller information see the HRI document on Heart attacks and consent for carers and first aiders.

Rehabilitation
means discussion; guided exercise; getting social support; understanding of the illness, treatment, and symptoms; and knowing what to do lifestyle issues, why and how to exercise, and diet. It helps improve health for those who have had any of: heart attack, angioplasty, bypass surgery, stable angina, or heart failure. After a heart attack, correct rehabilitation reduces the risk of early death by 20%.

Restenosis
means becoming stenosed again after treatment such as a stent being fitted.

Risk
is a calculated probability or chance of some future result or outcome. The calculation is usually based on the observed pattern of many past patients.

Salt
has several meanings.

Secondary prevention
Once a patient has a disease he or she and/or others can try to stop it getting worse, or at least slow down its progress called secondary prevention. Compare Primary prevention.

Side effect
Many medicines may produce undesirable side effects. Side effects include: drowsiness, dizziness eg on standing up, muddled thinking, unsteadiness eg leading to a fall, confusion, hangover in a morning, slurred speech, headaches, and/or pains.

Smoking
removes oxygen from the blood, excites the heart, and makes blood cells stick together. This often leads to high blood pressure, heart and/or lung diseases, stroke, and/or earlier death.

Standard deviation
, SD, is a measure of how far a set of observed values spread on either side of their mean. Eg the set of five values 79, 89, 100, 111, 121 has mean 100, and the SD is calculated to be 15. The SD calculation depends on differences of the values from the mean eg 79 and 89 are roughly 15 below 100, and 111 and 121 are roughly 15 above. See normal distribution.

Statin
Statins are lipid-regulating medicines lipid-lowering tablets. They are used to:

Statistically significant
In a research trial, or from observations of many patients who differ in some way, statisticians can calculate the probability of a null hypothesis.

Stent
In some patients with a blocked artery, surgery may be avoided by inserting a stent, which is rather like a small, coiled, stainless steel spring. It is placed, using an angioplasty catheter, in the blocked or collapsed section of the artery. When it is released from the catheter, the spring expands and holds the artery open.

Sternum
The sternum is the breastbone, the long flat vertical bone at the front of the chest to which the collarbone and the upper-seven pairs of ribs join.

Stress
Stress occurs when the physical, emotional, health/disease, or mental pressures on a person exceed what he or she can cope with.

Stroke
A stroke is when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly and seriously impaired by a blood clot or damage to an artery. The patient may have a sudden severe headache; be in a confused emotional state; seem to be like drunk; gradually or suddenly go unconscious; and/or have weakness, drooping, dribbling mouth, slurred speech, loss of movement, unequal size pupils, and/or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Superior
means either greater quantity or quality; or situated higher up, above or upper in position. Opposite of Inferior.

Supraventricular tachycardia
, SVT, means the heart is beating too fast and irregularly. Instead of the normal heart rate of about 60 to 80 beats per minute, it is from 140 to 200. It may be caused by too much stress, coffee, smoking, or alcohol; or by viral infections. It may occur spontaneously, or may occur by the rate not returning to normal when resting after exercise.

Symptom
The symptoms of an injury or disease are the sensations that the patient experiences and can describe.

System
The systems approach to understanding how things work is based on two ideas.

Tachycardia
is an abnormally high heart rate, usually over 100 beats per minute. An overactive thyroid may also cause it. See Supraventricular tachycardia. Compare Bradycardia.

Thrombosis
means the formation or presence of a thrombus, which is a solid lump of platelets forming a clot. It can also informally mean a coronary thrombosis. See Deep vein thrombosis.

Thyroxine, thyroid gland
The thyroid gland near the base of the neck produces hormones such as thyroxine that control metabolism and body growth.

Transplant
means taking an organ, tissue or part of a body from one place to another place eg from one person to another person; or from one place in a person's body to another place in that person as a graft. The term Transplant is also used to mean the surgery operation.

Traumatic
means arising from any injury or wound to the body.

Triglycerides
are relatively harmful fatty substances in the blood. Most natural fats and oils contain these. The amount can be measured in a blood test.

Troponins
When a heart attack is suspected, blood tests measure various substances including troponins. Troponins of patients with CHD are also measured. Troponins are released into the blood by damaged muscles, they remain in the blood for several days, and their alternative structures distinguish between cardiac or skeletal muscle origin. So if cardiac troponins are present, the patient has had a heart attack and has heart muscle damage.

Ultrasound
Ultrasound is sound waves above the highest frequency that can be heard by a human ear, about 20 kHz ie ultrasonic waves. Ultrasound has two applications.

Valve
A human heart has four valves, two on the right and two on the left.

Variable
has several meanings. A variable is something that can be observed, measured or calculated for every patient in a selected group. It may also apply to a quantity that has a range of possible values. Variable can also mean liable to change. It may also apply to something liable to vary from the established type or pattern. It also applies to something that can be varied but in a controlled way.

Vein
A vein is a blood vessel in which blood flows towards the heart from part of the rest of the body.

Vena cava
A vena cava is either one of the two large veins that carry low-oxygen blood back to the heart. They are the inferior vena cava, IVC, and the superior vena cava, SVC.

Ventral
means towards or relating to the front of the body or towards the belly. Opposite of dorsal. Also see Anterior.

Ventricle
The right ventricle is the lower-right chamber of the heart. Similarly the left ventricle is the lower-left chamber. Blood is pumped from the left ventricle to the rest of the body along arteries; and from the right ventricle to the lungs.

Ventricular fibrillation
is an irregular twitching of the heart muscle wall, interfering with the normal rhythm of the ventricles. The electrical impulses may become chaotic, so the heart muscles do not respond correctly. It is often corrected by early use of a defibrillator. See Cardiac arrest, Automatic external defibrillator, and Supraventricular tachycardia.

Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the extent to which a liquid such as blood does not flow easily its stickiness. Eg syrup or treacle is more viscous than water. See International Normalized Ratio.

Vitamins
are natural substances, and most people may take supplementary tablets without risk, but should not need such.