Helpful Terms

Below are some terms that will be helpful in understanding your cardiac health care.

Parts of the Heart

  • Left and Right Coronary Arteries: Supply blood to the heart ventricles and atrium.
  • Left and Right Ventricles: Two of four chambers of the heart. The right ventricle receives blood from the right atrium as it flows through the heart. The left ventricle receives blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the aorta and throughout the rest of the body.
  • Left and Right Atriums: Two of four chambers of the heart. The right atrium receives blood from the heart muscle itself through a major vein. The blood is collected in the right atrium and is pumped into the right ventricle. The left atrium receives blood from the lungs through large veins. The blood is then collected in the left atrium and is pumped into the left ventricle.

Stent: A small tubular mesh device resembling the "spring from an ink" pen which is placed in a blocked area of an artery to open the blockage.

Pacemaker: A device which is placed in a patient to correct a problem in the "electrical system" of the heart which causes the heart beat is abnormal.

EKG/Electrocardiogram: An electrical tracing of the heart's rhythm.

Myocardial Infarction/MI: Also known as a heart attack. The death of, or damage to, an area of the heart muscle because of an inadequate blood supply reaching that area.

Myocardium: Heart muscle

Cholesterol: A soft waxy substance found among the fats in the bloodstream and in all your body cells.

Angioplasty: A procedure where a thin long tube-like catheter with a small ballon on the end is inserted into a blockage in an artery, the balloon is then inflated to open the blockage.

Echocardiogram: An ultrasound of the heart in which sound waves are used to project images of the different chambers and arteries of the heart.

Holter Monitor: A small recording device which is hooked to a patient using three EKG leads. The device records the patient's heart rhythm continually for 24-48 hours and the doctor later interprets the tracings to determine if there are abnormalities.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft: A surgical procedure in which one or more blocked coronary arteries are bypassed by a blood vessel graft to restore normal blood flow to the heart. These grafts usually come from the patient's own arteries and veins located in the leg, arm, or chest.

Vein Harvesting: Where a vein is removed from the leg and used during bypass surgery. The vein can be removed in a minimally-invasive way with special instruments and a small incision. The incision is closed with an adhesive product, eliminating sutures or staples. This technique has been shown to be more comfortable for the patient during recovery.

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