Angiogram — An x-ray of blood vessels which can be seen because the patient receives an injection of dye to outline the vessels on the x-ray.
Aorta — The largest artery in the body, the aorta arises from the left ventricle of the heart, goes up (ascends) a little ways, bends over (arches), then goes down (descends) through the chest and through the abdomen to where ends by dividing into two arteries called the common iliac arteries that go to the legs.
Aortic — Pertaining to the aorta, the largest artery in the body.
Artery — A vessel that carries blood high in oxygen content away from the heart to the farthest reaches of the body. Since blood in arteries is usually full of oxygen, the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is oxygenated. The resultant form of hemoglobin (oxyhemoglobin) is what makes arterial blood look bright red.
Atresia — Absence of a normal opening or failure of a structure to be tubular.
Artia — The plural of atrium. The atria are the two smaller chambers of the heart. Each atrium consists of an open space with recessed walls.
Artium — One of the two smaller chambers of the heart. Each atrium consists of an open space with recessed walls. The plural of atrium is atria.
Cardiovascular — The circulatory system comprising the heart and blood vessels which carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes from them.
Catheter — A thin, flexible tube. For example, a catheter placed in a vein provides a pathway for giving drugs, nutrients, fluids, or blood products. Samples of blood can also be withdrawn through the catheter.
Coronary arteries — The vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood rich in oxygen. They are called the coronary arteries because they encircle the heart in the manner of a crown. The word “coronary” comes from the Latin “corona” and Greek “koron” meaning crown. Like other arteries, the coronaries may be subject to arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). There are a number of coronary arteries. Those most often bypassed today include the right coronary artery, the posterior descending coronary artery, the left main coronary artery, the left anterior descending coronary artery and the left circumflex coronary artery. Plaques obstructing the coronary arteries may also be treated by balloon angioplasty, stents, and other techniques.
Cyanosis — A bluish color of the skin and the mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen in the blood. For example, the lips may show cyanosis. Cyanosis can be evident at birth, as in a “blue baby” who has a heart malformation that permits blood that is not fully oxygenated to enter the arterial circulation. Cyanosis can also appear at any time later in life.
Electrocardiogram — A recording of the electrical activity of the heart. An electrocardiogram is a simple, non-invasive procedure. Electrodes are placed on the skin of the chest and connected in a specific order to a machine that, when turned on, measures electrical activity all overaround the heart. Output is usually in the form of a long scroll of paper displaying a printed graph of activity. Newer models output the data directly to a computer and screen, although a print-out may still be made.
Heart valves — There are four heart valves. All are one-way valves. Blood entering the heart first passes through the tricuspid valve and then the pulmonary valve. After returning from the lungs, the blood passes through the mitral (bicuspid) valve and exits via the aortic valve.
Hypertension — High blood pressure, defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg — a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90.
Hypertrophy — Enlargement or overgrowth of an organ or part of the body due to the increased size of the constituent cells. Hypertrophy occurs in the biceps and heart because of increased work. Cardiac hypertrophy is recognizable microscopically by the increased size of the cells. The term hypertrophy is applied to the enlargement of the uterus during pregnancy. The term benign prostatic hypertrophy is a misnomer because the increased size of the prostate is due to hyperplasia, an increase in the number of cells.
Left atrium — The upper right chamber of the heart. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it down into the left ventricle which delivers it to the body.
Left ventricle — The left lower chamber of the heart that receives blood from the left atrium and pumps it out under high pressure through the aorta to the body.
Pulmonary artery — One of the two vessels which are formed as terminal branches of the pulmonary trunk and convey unaerated blood to the lungs. The two pulmonary arteries differ in length and anatomy.
Pulmonary valve — One of the four valves in the heart, the pulmonary valve stands at the opening from the right ventricle in the pulmonary artery trunk. It lets blood head in the right direction (toward the lungs) and keeps it from sloshing back from the pulmonary artery into the heart.
Regurgitation — A backward flowing. For example, of food. Or the sloshing of blood back into the heart (or between chambers of the heart) when a heart valve is incompetent and does not close effectively.
Right atrium — The right upper chamber of the heart. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the body through the vena cava and pumps it into the right ventricle which then sends it to the lungs to be oxygenated.
Right ventricle — The lower right chamber of the heart that receives deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it under low pressure into the lungs via the pulmonary artery.
Septum — A word borrowed from the Latin “saeptum” meaning a “dividing wall or enclosure.”
Stenosis — A narrowing, as in: aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve of the heart), pulmonary stenosis (narrowing of the pulmonary valve of the heart), pyloric stenosis (narrowing of the outlet of the stomach), andspinal stenosis (narrowing of the vertebral canal).
Systole — The time period when the heart is contracting. The period specifically during which the left ventricle of the heart contracts.
TEE — Transesophageal echocardiography. A diagnostic test which employs ultrasound waves to make images of the heart chambers, valves and surrounding structures and which is done through the esophagus.
Tetralogy of Fallot — A combination of four heart defects that are present together at birth, accounting for about 10% of all congenital heart disease.
Tricuspid — Having three flaps or cusps. The valve that is called the tricuspid valve is situated between the right atrium and right ventricle and permits blood to flow only from the atrium into the ventricle. The aortic valve in the heart also has three cusps.
Vena cava — The superior vena cava is the large vein which returns blood to the heart from the head, neck and both upper limbs. The inferior vena cava returns blood to the heart from the lower part of the body.
Ventricle — A chamber of an organ. For example, the four connected cavities (hollow spaces) in the central portion of the brain and the lower two chambers of the heart are called ventricles.
Vessel — A tube in the body that carries fluids: blood vessels or lymph vessels.
VSD — A Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole in the septum (the wall) between the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles).