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Cardiovascular Glossary

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If you are a WakeMed Heart Center patient or family member, you may hear your caregiver use terms that are unfamiliar to you.  We hope the following list of key words, phrases and their meanings will be helpful to you in understanding your heart condition and/or procedure.


Angina Pectoris: Symptoms experienced when the heart muscle is not receiving adequate oxygen (may include chest, arm or back pain, shortness of breath).

Angiogram: A test to determine if Coronary Artery Disease is present.  Contrast dye is injected into the coronary arteries through the groin, and a fluoroscope allows the doctor to see the vessels on an X-ray machine.

Angioplasty: A minimally invasive treatment of the coronary arteries that opens blocked  vessels using a tiny balloon to push back the blockage or plaque.  Also known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).

Atherosclerosis: A disease in which the flow of blood to the heart is restricted with plaque deposits and, therefore, less oxygen and other nutrients reach the heart muscle.  This may lead to chest pain (angina pectoris) or to a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Balloon Angioplasty: Opening the blocked artery by using a balloon catheter that is inflated inside the vessel.  A catheter is a small, thin plastic tube used to provide access to parts of the body, such as the coronary arteries.

Coronary Angiogram: A test to determine if CAD is present.  Contrast dye is injected into the coronary arteries and a fluoroscope allows the doctor to see the vessels on an X-ray machine.

Coronary Arteries: The arteries that surround the heart and supply blood containing oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG): Open heart or bypass surgery.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Disease affecting the coronary arteries that surround the heart and supply blood to the heart muscle.  CAD occurs when the lumen of the coronary arteries becomes narrowed with plaque deposits (a buildup of cholesterol and other fats, calcium and elements carried in the blood).

Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG): A test that records changes in the electrial activity of the heart. May show whether parts of the heart muscle have been damaged due to insufficient oxygen flow to the heart.

In-Stent Restenosis: Recurrent blockage or narrowing of a previously implanted stent.

Introducer Sheath: A tube that is inserted into the body to provide an access point and allow the insertion of other instruments into the artery.

Lipophilic: Characterized by being attracted to lipids (literally, "lipid loving").

Lumen: The inner channel of a vessel.

Myocardial Infarction: Permanent damage to the heart tissue and muscle due to the interruption of the blood supply to the area. Commonly referred to as a heart attack.

Neointima: The scar tissue made up of cells and cell secretions that often forms as a result of vessel injury following angioplasty or stent placement as part of the natural healing process.

Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA): See Angioplasty.

Plaque: Accumulation or buildup of cholesterol, fatty deposits, calcium and collagen in a coronary vessel that leads to blockages in the blood vessel.

Pre-Dilatation: The use of a balloon catheter to dilate a coronary lesion prior to placement of the coronary stent. This procedure provides the physician access for the stent delivery system as well as aiding in selection of stent size.

Post-Dilatation: After the stent has been expanded, another balloon catheter may be inserted inside the stent and inflated to size the stent more precisely to the wall.

Restenosis: Recurrent blockage or narrowing of a previously treated vessel.

Stent: An expandable metal tube that supports the vessel wall and maintains blood flow through the opened vessel.

Stress Test: A test that records the heart's electrical activity while the patient exercises. May show whether parts of the heart muscle have been damaged due to insufficient oxygen flow to the heart.

 

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