Heart Index – A

A B C D E F H I L M N O P R S T V
ACE inhibitors

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. They help to inhibit the production of chemicals in the body which constrict blood vessels, and are commonly used in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Adrenaline

A hormone which is secreted by the adrenal medulla in response to stress and which increases the heart rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure.

Angina

Short for angina pectoris. Pain in the chest caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle.

Angiocardiography

Another term for coronary angiography. A method of detecting whether a person’s coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked. A dye is first introduced into the patient’s coronary arteries and heart through a catheter. X-rays are then taken as the dye moves through the heart and coronary arteries.

Angioplasty

Short for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA); also referred to as “coronary angioplasty” or “balloon angioplasty”. A procedure used to widen a blocked coronary artery at the point of narrowing by means of a small balloon attached to the tip of a catheter.

Anti-arrhythmic drugs

Medicines used to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Anticoagulant

An agent which retards the clotting of blood, but which does not dissolve existing clots. It tends to prevent new clots from forming and existing clots from becoming larger.

Antioxidant

A substance which prevents or delays the deterioration of an object, by the action of oxygen in the air.

Anti-platelet drugs

Drugs which reduce the tendency of blood to clot. They act by reducing the “stickiness” of the platelets in blood.

Aorta

The largest artery in the body; also the artery which carries oxygenated blood out of the heart for distribution to other parts of the body.

Aortic stenosis

Abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve. It may arise as a congenital heart defect.

Aortic valve

The valve separating the aorta from the left ventricle of the heart.

Arrhythmia

An irregular heart rhythm.

Artery

A vessel which conveys blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. It generally carries blood which is rich in oxygen. The exception in humans is the pulmonary artery which transports deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs.

Atherosclerosis

The accumulation of fatty deposits on the walls of arteries.

Atria (sg. atrium)

The upper cavities of the heart. They receive blood that is being returned to the heart. The left atrium contains oxygen-rich blood flowing back from the lungs, while the right atrium contains deoxygenated blood from other parts of the body.

Atrial fibrillation

An irregular heartbeat caused by the atria failing to contract as they should. In patients with this condition, the atria merely “flutter” instead of contracting.

Atrial septal defect

A congenital heart defect in the form of a hole between the two atria.