Our Services

Definitions

When you come to the Heart Institute, you will probably hear words that are not familiar to you. Some commonly used terms are defined in this section.

Ablation — a procedure performed in the catheterization (cath) lab in which radiofrequency energy passes through a special catheter to disrupt abnormal electrical pathways inside the heart; it is used to treat arrhythmias

Arrhythmia — any change in the normal rate or rhythm of the heartbeat

Artery — any large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the various parts of the body

Atresia — the absence of an opening where one should be located

Atria — the two upper chambers of the heart; atrium is the word used to refer to a single chamber

Balloon Atrial Septostomy (Rashkind Procedure) — a procedure performed in the cath lab with a special catheter containing a deflated balloon at its tip; the catheter is inserted through a hole in the wall separating the two upper chambers of the heart (atria); when the balloon is inflated and passed through the hole, it usually increases the size of the opening; after this process, the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed

Balloon Angioplasty — a procedure performed in the cath lab with a special catheter containing a deflated balloon at its tip; the catheter is inserted into a narrowed blood vessel; when the balloon is carefully inflated, the narrowed area may be stretched open; after this dilation, the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed

Balloon Valvuloplasty — a procedure performed in the cath lab with a special catheter containing a deflated balloon at its tip; the catheter is inserted into the opening of a narrowed heart valve; when the balloon is carefully inflated, the valve may be stretched open; after this dilation, the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed

Blood Pressure — the pressure of the blood flowing in the arteries

Cardiomyopathy — a disease that weakens the heart muscle; it has many different causes

Catheter — a long, thin hollow tube that is inserted into a blood vessel during a cardiac catheterization

Cyanosis — a blueness of the lips, nail beds and skin; it occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the blood

Diastolic Blood Pressure — the bottom number in a blood pressure reading; it is the pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart muscle is relaxed between each beat

Edema — an abnormal amount of fluid in the body tissue; it can result in swelling in various parts of the body, especially the ankles, abdomen, feet or eyelids

Endocarditis (Bacterial Endocarditis or BE) — an infection of the inner lining (endocardium) of the heart or heart valves

Endocardium — the thin lining which covers the inside of the heart

Enlarged Heart — the presence of a heart problem sometimes causes the heart muscle to work very hard; like the body muscles of weight lifters, a heart muscle that is overworked becomes bigger or enlarged

Heart Failure — results when the heart cannot effectively pump blood through the body and lungs; inability of the heart to pump well (failure) may cause swelling (edema) to occur in the body or extra fluid to accumulate in the lungs

Heart Murmur — an unusual noise made as the blood moves through the heart that can be heard by listening with a stethoscope; there are two kinds of murmurs–one is functional or innocent and is heard in children with normal hearts; the other kind of murmur indicates a structural abnormality, which may or may not be serious

Insufficiency — an inadequate functioning of a valve causing regurgitation (leaking or backward flow) of blood through a valve (see Regurgitation)

Myocardial Infarction — a heart attack or damage to an area of the heart muscle (myocardium) caused by an interference in blood supply to that area; it is rare in children with heart disease

Myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium)

Myocardium — the muscular part of the heart that pumps blood

Occlusion — a procedure performed in the cath lab with a special catheter that allows the placement of various kinds of devices to block patent ductus arteriosus, atrial septal defect or other abnormal connections

Pacemaker (artificial) — a small battery-operated instrument that controls the beating of the heart by sending electrical impulses to the heart muscle; it is used when the heart is beating too slowly; artificial pacemakers may be used temporarily or permanently

Pericarditis — an inflammation of the thin, elastic sac around the heart (pericardium)

Pericardium — the thin elastic-like sac that covers the outside of the heart

Pulmonary Edema — an abnormal amount of fluid that accumulates in the lungs and makes breathing difficult; heart failure may lead to pulmonary edema

Pulmonary Hypertension — an abnormally high pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs

Regurgitation — the abnormal backward flow of blood through a heart valve caused by a valve that is not functioning adequately (see Insufficiency)

Septum — the muscular wall in the middle of the heart that divides the heart into a left side and a right side; the upper part of the septum (atrial septum) separates the right and left atria; the lower part of the septum (ventricular septum) separates the right and left ventricles

Stenosis — an abnormal narrowing or tightening of a valve or blood vessel

Stent — a device inserted into a blood vessel to make a narrowing larger; the device is implanted with a special catheter during a catheterization procedure

Systolic Blood Pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading; it is the pressure of the blood when the heart muscle contracts with each beat

Valves — structures of the heart that act as one-way doors, allowing blood to flow in the proper direction; there are four major valves–mitral, tricuspid, aortic and pulmonary; these structures can be malformed at birth or affected by diseases like rheumatic fever or endocarditis

Vein — any blood vessel that carries blood from the body to the heart

Ventricles — the two lower chambers of the heart

Last Update
March 25, 2013
  • Increase/Decrease Text Size
  • Print This Page
Last Update
March 25, 2013
top