Heart Disease Glossary of Terms


Acute Myocardial Infarction
(AMI) The medical term for a “heart attack.” Acute myocardial infarction results from a blockage in one or more of the blood vessels leading to the heart. Damage to the heart muscle results, due to the lack of blood flow.  

A cell specialized for the storage of fat.

Adipose Tissue
The medical term for body fat. It is the richest source of adult stem cells as yet discovered.
Adipose Derived Stem and Regenerative Cells; adult stem cells derived from fat tissue. These “repair cells” can differentiate into a variety of cell types including heart muscle and blood vessels.
Adult Stem Cells
Adult stem cells, found after the development of the embryo, are undifferentiated cells found throughout the body that divide to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. They are sometimes called “repair cells”.
Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator--a device, implanted in the chest, that monitors a person's heart rate.
From a donor
A new blood vessel growth.
Referring to the front of the body or an organ.    

Irregular heart beat; disturbance of the heart's regular beating pattern.

From self
Bare Metal Stenting
Mesh-like tube of thin wire with no coating; used in the first stenting procedures.
Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)
A series of basic blood tests, including sodium, potassium, CO2, chloride, glucose, etc.    
Coronary Artery Disease
Heart muscle cells.
CE Mark
A European standard for medical devices; a CE Mark indicates that a device meets the requirements of the Medical Device Directive, including consumer safety health or environmental requirements and appropriate quality system standards. The letters “CE” are the abbreviation of French phrase “Conformité Européene” which literally means “European Conformity."
Chronic Myocardial Ischemia--also called cardiac ischemia; lack of flow to the heart, caused by a blockage in the arteries.
Collateral circulation
Blood flow through small, nearby vessels in response to the blockage of a main blood vessel.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
A condition in which the heart cannot pump all the blood returning to it, leading to a backup of blood in the vessels and an accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues, including the lungs. (Commonly mistaken as "congested" heart failure.)
Coronary arteries
Two arteries arising from the aorta that arch down over the top of the heart and divide into branches. They provide blood to the heart muscle.
Coronary Artery Disease
Heart disease caused by plaque having built up in the arteries.
A small protein released by cells that has a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells. There are both pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Diastolic Failure
Predominant diastolic dysfunction or diastolic failure is the inability of the heart to relax and fill normally. It is characterized by a thickened ventricular muscle, poor ability of the left ventricle to distend (stretch), increased ventricular filling pressure, and a normal or increased EF. Twenty to 40% of heart failure is due to diastolic dysfunction. Some people have both systolic and diastolic dysfunction.
Ejection Fraction
Ejection Fraction
A measurement (%) of blood that is pumped out of a filled ventricle (lower chamber of heart.) The normal rate is 60% or more.
Relating to the epithelium, the outside layer of the cells that covers all the free, open surfaces of the body, including the skin, and mucous membranes that communicate with the outside of the body.
Lack of blood or insufficient flow.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Heart disease caused blood flow being restricted to due plaque in the arteries, also known as coronary artery disease.
Left Heart Failure
In left-sided failure, or failure of the left ventricle, pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs) is expected because of increased pressures on the circulatory system of the lungs. Lack of sufficient flow to the left ventricle is usually responsible for left-sided failure. The two sides of the heart do not operate in isolation, however--failure on one side will be associated with failure of the other side. Thus, there are no abnormal findings that are characteristic of only right or left types of heart failure.
Left Ventricular
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A technique that produces images of the heart and other body structures by measuring the response of certain elements (such as hydrogen) in the body to a magnetic field. When stimulated by radio waves, the elements emit distinctive signals in a magnetic field. MRI can produce detailed pictures of the heart and its various structures without the need to inject a dye.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are rare cells mainly found in the bone marrow or in adipose (fat) tissue that can give rise to a large number of tissue types such as bone, cartilage (the lining of joints), fat tissue and connective tissue (tissue that is in between organs and structures in the body.)
Metabolic Equivalent of Task; a measurement of the amount of energy required to exercise. A strong predictor of adverse cardiac-related events.
Maximum Volume of Oxygen Consumed--the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can use. This is the best predictor of cardiac-related mortality.
A muscle cell.
The formation of new capillaries and blood vessels to supply ischemic tissue.
The NYHA Functional Classification provides a simple way of classifying the extent of heart failure. It places patients in one of four categories based on how much they are limited during physical activity; the limitations/symptoms are in regards to normal breathing and varying degrees in shortness of breath and or angina pain.
Of, relating to, promoted by or being a substance secreted by a cell, and acting on nearby cells.
Paracrine Signaling
A form of cell signaling in which the target cell is close to (“para” means alongside of or next to) the signal releasing cell. Paracrine signaling agents include growth factor and clotting factors. Growth factor signalling plays an important role in many aspects of development. In mature organisms paracrine signaling functions include responses to allergens, repairs to damaged tissue, formation of scar tissue, and clotting.
The passage of fluid (such as blood) through a specific organ or area of the body (such as the heart).
Refractory Angina
Unmanageable angina (chest pains due to restricted blood flow to the heart) that does not respond to medical treatment.
Right Heart Failure
In right-sided failure, or failure of the right ventricle, there tends to be congestion (fluid accumulation) in organs such as the liver and peripheral edema (swelling) in the feet, because of pressure transmitted back through the venous system. Cor pulmonale—heart disease caused by lung disease—is the main cause of right-sided failure.
Smooth Muscle
Muscle that is capable of slow rhythmic involuntary contractions such as occurs in the walls of the blood vessels.
Smooth Muscle Cells
Cells that make up smooth muscle.
Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography; a type of nuclear test.
Systolic Failure
Predominant systolic dysfunction or systolic failure is the inability of the heart to contract normally and expel sufficient blood. It is characterized by an enlarged, poorly contracting left ventricle and reduced ejection fraction. Ejection fraction (EF) is the percentage of the blood in the ventricle pumped out with each contraction. Most of the claims for disability benefits seen by the Social Security Administration involve systolic heart failure.
Relating to blood vessels.
Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
Refers to the particular type of smooth muscle cell found within, and composing the majority of the wall of, blood vessels. These are responsible for the contraction of blood vessels.
Ventricle (Right and Left)
One of the two lower chambers of the heart.