Text & web design by Ra-id Abdulla, MD

A

Acyanotic heart disease

Heart defect without cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin).

Aneurysm

Abnormal dilation of a blood vessel or wall of the heart.

Angiogram

An x-ray film of the heart or blood vessels after injecting a dye within the heart or blood vessels. This enables visualization of the cardiovascular structures.

Angioplasty

Repair of vascular abnormalities through cardiac catheterization.

Aortic arch

The part of the aorta which curves down, usually to the left but sometimes to the right.

Aortic stenosis

Narrowing of the orifice of the aortic valve.

Aortic regurgitation

Leakage of the aortic valve.

Aorta

A blood vessel which carries blood from the left ventricle to the body. The first potion of the aorta is directed upwards, thus called the ascending aorta, it then arches downwards (the aortic arch) and then descends downwards towards the abdomen and lower extremities (descending aorta).

Aortic valve

A valve at the junction of the left ventricle to the aorta.

Aorto-pulmonary window (or fenestration)

An abnormal direct communication between the aorta and pulmonary artery.

Arrhythmia

Abnormal heart rhythm.

Arterio-venous festula

An abnormal communication between an artery and vein (i.e. no capillaries in between).

Asphyxia

Lack of oxygen leading to organ damage.

Asplenia

Absent spleen or lack of normal function, seen in some complex cardiac defects.

Atherosclerosis

Disease of the lining of arteries, in part due to cholesterol deposition leading to obstruction of blood flow.

Atresia

Lack of embryological development, resulting in a small and abnormal organ formation.

 

Atrial fibrillation

A fast and irregular fast heart beating due to significant disease of the atrial chambers.

Atrial flutter

A type of abnormal and fast heart beating generated by abnormal tissue in the atria.

Atrial septal defect (ASD)

A hole in the atrial septum.

Atrial septum

The wall partitioning the right and left atrium.

Atrio-ventricular canal

The area where the atria connect to the ventricles. This is usually divided into a mitral and tricuspid valve. When there is a single communication between the atria and the ventricle it is termed common atrio-ventricular canal defect.

Atrio-ventricular node

This is a node of tissue which specializes in conducting electricity within the heart. It conducts the electrical stimulus from the atria into the ventricles through special pathways called bundles of His.

Azygous vein

A vein which connects the inferior vena cava to the superior vena cava, usually small.

B

Bradycardia

Slow heart rate.

Bundles of His

These are specialized tissues which convey electrical stimulus from the atria to the ventricles.

C

Cardiac

Latin for heart.

Cardiomyopathy

Disease of the muscles of the heart leading to their thickening (hypertrophic) or their thinning (dilated)

Cardioversion

Using electrical stimulation to correct a dangerous and abnormal heart rhythm.

Catheter

A tiny hose like device which is inserted in the body through a blood vessel (usually in the groin) and manipulated to the heart where pressure measurements and dye injection is performed.

Catheterization

A procedure in which the cardiologist evaluates heart structures and pressures inside using catheters. Pressure measurement is obtained through the catheter, which are also used to inject a dye through it and obtain an x-ray film of the heart with the dye inside it, this helps to delineate cardiac chambers and vessels.

Chorea

An abnormal and uncontrollable movement of the arms seen in rheumatic fever.

 

Closed heart surgery

A surgical procedure of the heart in which the heart continues to pump. This typically involve minor procedures to the heart.

Color Doppler

This technology of the echocardiogram machine shows the moving blood inside the heart and the direction they are going in. This helps differentiate normal and abnormal blood flow.

Congenital heart disease

Abnormal embryological development of the heart.

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

Refers to a fatigued heart due to work overload associated with congestion of the lungs.

Coronary arteries

Small blood vessels which feed blood to the muscles of the heart.

Coronary sinus

A collecting vein which drains blood from the heart itself.

Cor pulmonale

Affliction of the lungs secondary to heart disease.

Cyanosis

Bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor oxygen contents of the blood (well oxygenated blood is red in color and desaturated blood is blue in color).

D

Descending aorta

The part of the aorta which descends down to the abdomen.

Defibrillation

Using electrical stimulation to correct a dangerous and abnormal heart rhythm.

Dextrocardia

Abnormality in cardiac development resulting in that the cardiac apex (tip of ventricles) is rightwards rather than leftwards.

Dextroversion

The heart is pushed (or pulled) to the right side of the chest cavity due to lung disease or other causes.

DiGerorge syndrome

A genetic disease which affects the normal development of the heart, thymus and parathyroid glands.

Doppler

An ultrasound feature of the echocardiogram machine which estimates the speed of blood flow, from which pressure gradient across a narrow valve could be detected.

Double inlet left ventricle

A cardiac defect in which both mitral and tricuspid valves open into the left ventricle.

Double outlet right ventricle

A cardiac defect in which both great major vessels emerge from the right ventricle.

Down’s syndrome

A birth defect due to abnormalities of the chromosomes, many such patients have cardiac disease, usually atrio-ventricular canal defect. Also known as trisomy 21 syndrome.

Dysrhythmia

Abnormal heart rhythm.

E

Ebstein’s anomaly

Birth defect of the heart affecting the tricuspid valve, which is abnormally positioned and leads to tricuspid stenosis and regurgitation.

Ectopia cordis

Abnormal development of the heart resulting in an abnormal position of the heart outside the thoracic cage and visible to the eye. The heart may or may not be covered by skin.

Ectopic

Latin, indicating location other than usual.

Echocardiogram

A device used to image the heart using ultrasound waves.

Endocardial cushion defect

Another term for atrioventricular canal defect, in which there is a common communication between the atria and the ventricles.

Endocarditis

Inflammation of the lining layer of the heart.

Eustacian valve

A small ridge in the wall of the right atrium which directs blood coming from the umbilical vein before birth to the left atrium through the patent foramen ovale.

Exercise testing

A test designed to assess the cardiac rhythm and function by subjecting the individual to exercise on a treadmill, bicycle or simulated through intravenous medications.

F

Failure to thrive

Failure to grow as expected.

First degree heart (or AV) block

Delay in conduction of heart beats from the atria to the ventricles.

Foramen ovale

A hole communicating the right and left atria, present in all unborn children and remains open after birth for variable periods of time.

G

H

Heart block

Blockage transmission of heart beats from the atria to the ventricles.

Heart lung machine

A device used to take the blood away from the body before it reaches the heart, it removes carbon dioxide and supply it with oxygen, then pump it back into the body. It is used in open heart surgeries so that the heart and lungs would have no blood in them, making surgical procedures on these organs possible.

Hemoglobin (Hgb)

Protein particles in the blood capable of carrying oxygen to the body.

Hypercalcemia

High level of calcium in the blood

Hyperkalemia

High potassium level in the blood.

Hypocalcemia

Low level of calcium in the blood

Hypokalemia

Low potassium level in the blood.

Hypoplastic

Lack of embryological development resulting in a abnormally small organ formation.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome

A birth defect in which the left side of the heart is poorly developed, resulting in small mitral valve, left ventricle and aortic valve.

Hypertension

High blood pressure.

I

Infarction

Death of tissue, usually used with muscles of the heart: myocardial infarction.

Insufficiency, also termed regurgitation

Backward leakage of a valve. This occurs when the valve is deformed and unable to prevent the blood from leaking backwards when it is closed.

Inferior vena cava

A major vein draining blood from the body and lower extremities.

Intravenous

Within the vein, such as intravenous injection of a medicine: delivering a medicine through a needle directly into the veins.

 

J

Jones criteria

Features of rheumatic fever, used to establish diagnosis.

Junctional rhythm

A heart rhythm generating from the atrioventricular node.

Junctional tachycardia

An abnormally fast heart rate generated from the atrioventricular node.

 

K

Kawasaki disease

A disease involving the immune system affecting the heart, particularly the coronary arteries.

L

Left atrium

One of the two collecting chambers of the heart. It receives blood returning from the lungs. Four pulmonary veins drain into the left atrium.

Left ventricle

One of two pumping chambers. It pumps blood to the body.

M

Malposition of the heart

Abnormally positioned heart in the chest due to abnormal embryological development.

Marfan’s disease

A genetic disorder which affects the connective tissue of the body. It causes heart disease due to dilation of blood vessels and redundancy of cardiac valves.

Mesocardia

Abnormal position of the heart where it occupies a more central position within the chest.

Mitral valve

A valve at the junction of the left atrium and left ventricle.

Myocarditis

Inflammation of the heart muscles.

Myocardium

Muscles of the heart. There are more myocardium in the ventricles than in the atria, and more in the left ventricle than the right. Myocardium enables the cardiac chambers to squeeze, propelling blood.

N

O

Open heart surgery

A surgical procedure of the heart in which the heart is stopped and the circulation is maintained to the body using a heart lung machine which in addition to pumping blood to the body it removes carbon dioxide from the blood and add oxygen to it.

Oxygen desaturation

Refers to the situation wen the blood going out to the body is not fully saturated as it normally should be. This is seen when there is lung disease or when the desaturated blood in the right heart crosses over to the left side heart and contaminate the well oxygenated blood.

Oxygen saturation

The extent of which the hemoglobin is saturated with oxygen. A normal oxygen saturation of the blood leaving the heart to the body is 95-100%. The oxygen saturation of the blood returning to the heart after delivering oxygen to the body id 75%.

P

P-wave

An ECG wave form representing electrical changes of atrial contraction.

Pace maker

The tissue of the heart which generates the heart beat, normally this is the sinus node.

Palpitation

The sensation of abnormal heart rhythm. This may be due to irregular heart beating or fast heart rate.

Patent ductus arteriosus

A blood vessel present in all unborn children. This conveys blood from the main pulmonary artery to the aorta before birth since there is very little blood going to the lungs before birth. This closes soon after birth in the overwhelming majority of children, if it persists, it will shunt blood from the aorta to the pulmonary arteries after birth causing increase in the blood flow to the lungs.

Patent foramen ovale

A small opening in the atrial septum. This is present in all unborn children, where it carries blood to the left atrium. However, after birth this hole will allow blood to go from the left atrium to the right atrium. It closes spontaneously soon after birth. It may persist and is rarely problematic.

Pericardial effusion

Accumulation of fluid in the pericardium.

Pericarditis

Inflammation of the covering layer of the heart (pericardium).

Pericardium

An envelop (two layers) covering the heart.

Polysplenia

Presence of multiple, usually small and may be non-functional spleen tissue.

Post-coarcectomy hypertension

High blood pressure sometimes seen after repair of coarctation of the aorta.

Post-coarcectomy syndrome

A condition seen after repair of coarctation of the aorta which involves the gastrointestinal system.

Post-pericardiotomy syndrome

Inflammation of the pericardium resulting in fluid accumulation, results after heart surgery.

Premature atrial contraction

An early beat of the heart originating from the atria.

Premature ventricular contraction

An early beat of the heart originating from the ventricles.

Pulmonary

Latin for lungs.

Pulmonary artery

A blood vessel which receives pumped blood from the right ventricle and convey it to the lungs. There is a main pulmonary artery which connects tot he right ventricle, this branches into a right and left pulmonary arteries to take blood to the right and left lungs.

Pulmonary valve

A valve at the junction of the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery.

Pulmonary vascular obstructive disease

This results from damage tot he blood vessels of the lungs resulting in high vascular resistance. This may be reversible, if the offending disease is removed, or permanent.

Pulmonary veins

Four veins which return the well oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium.

Q

QRS-waves

An ECG wave complex representing electrical changes of ventricular contraction.

R

Rashkind atrial septostomy

A non-surgical procedure to enlarge the hole in the atrial septum.

Regurgitation, also termed insufficiency

Backward leakage of a valve. This occurs when the valve is deformed and unable to prevent the blood from leaking backwards when it is closed.

Rheumatic fever

A disease affecting joints, skin and heart, precipitated by streptococcal infection.

Right ventricle

One of two pumping chambers. It pumps blood to the lungs (pulmonary circulation).

Right atrium

One of the two collecting chambers of the heart. It receives blood returning from the body. The inferior vena cava, superior vena cava and the coronary sinus drain into it.

S

Second degree heart (or AV) block

Abnormality in conduction of heart beats from the atria to the ventricles. Some beats are transmitted from the atria to the ventricles and some are not.

Sinus tachycardia

A normal heart rhythm, however fast in rate as seen with exercise.

Shortening fraction (SF)

A mean of measuring the strength of the left ventricle (pumping chamber), it measures how much does the left ventricle squeeze in its process of pumping blood to the body.

Signs

Abnormal findings a physician detects upon physical examination.

Sinus node

This is a collection of specialized tissue which generate the electrical impulse which cause the heart to contract.

Stenosis

Narrowing, or small passageway.

Sternotomy

A vertical surgical incision of the chest used to access the heart.

Stethoscope

A medical tool used to hear the heart sounds and air movement in the lungs. It consists of a an ear piece which the doctor puts in his ears, which is attached to a tube with a metal piece at its end which has a diaphragm and possibly a bell, which is placed on the patient’s chest.

Supraventricular tachycardia

An abnormal heart rhythm with a fast heart rate. This may be without symptoms or with the sensation of fast heart beating and possibly weakness, dizziness and other symptoms.

Subacute bacterial endocarditis

Inflammation of the lining layer of the heart.

Superior vena cava

A major vein draining blood from the head and upper extremities.

Symptoms

A complaint of a body ailment, such as chest pain, headache, loosing weight, etc.

T

T-waves

An ECG wave representing electrical changes of ventricular relaxation.

Tachycardia

Fast heart rate.

Tetralogy of Fallot

A congenital heart disease affecting the right ventricular outflow tract.

Third degree heart (or AV) block

Abnormality in conduction of heart beats from the atria to the ventricles. The atria and ventricles beat independently from each other.

Thoracotomy

A surgical incision on the side of the chest to access the heart.

Transposition of the great arteries (or vessels)

A congenital heart defect in which the two arteries emerging from the heart are switched.

Tricuspid valve

A valve at the junction of the right atrium and right ventricle.

Trisomy 21 syndrome

A birth defect due to abnormalities of the chromosomes, many such patients have cardiac disease, usually atrio-ventricular canal defect. Also known as Down’s syndrome.

Truncus arteriosus

A congenital heart disease resulting in abnormal development of the great arteries.

Two (2)-D echocardiography

A feature of the echocardiogram machine which allows imaging of the heart structure and function.

U

V

Valve

This refers to the door like structures which guard various parts of the heart, allowing blood to go into one direction and preventing it from returning backwards. There are four valves in the heart: the tricuspid, mitral, pulmonary and aortic valves.

Vascular resistance

This is the force generated by the tone of the blood vessels wall against the pumping heart. There is pulmonary vascular resistance and systemic vascular resistance. The former is the resistance generated by the blood vessels of the lungs and the later is generated by the blood vessels of the body.

Ventricular fibrillation

An abnormal and lethal heart beating due to significant disease of the ventricular chambers.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

A hole in the ventricular septum.

Ventricular tachycardia

An abnormal and dangerous fast heart beating. This may be life threatening.

W

William’s syndrome

A genetic disorder affecting the vasculature resulting in pulmonary and systemic vascular abnormalities.

Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome

Presence of an abnormal electrical pathway between the atria and the ventricles leading to abnormal heart rhythm.

X

Y

Z