Heart Index – C

Calcium channel blockers

Compounds which block the effect of calcium on muscle fibre cells. They relax the muscles in the heart and blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and heart rate. They are used in the treatment of high blood pressure, spasms of the coronary arteries, and angina caused by coronary heart disease.

Cardiac catheterisation

A procedure in which a catheter (thin tube) is passed through an artery in either the forearm or groin and then manoeuvred to the coronary arteries. It is used to detect areas where the coronary arteries are constricted and how narrow they have become.

Cardiac rehabilitation

The process of assisting recovering heart patients to resume, by their own efforts, as normal a life as possible. It includes physical exercise, nutritional and psychological counselling, as well as social and emotional support.


A generic term for diseases of the heart muscle. The most common form is dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle is weakened, causing left ventricular dilation and, in turn, elevated diastolic blood pressure and volume.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

A method of mouth-to-mouth breathing combined with external chest compressions which is used to keep oxygenated blood circulating in the body when the heart stops beating.

Carotid arteries

The two arteries carrying blood from the heart to the head and neck.


A long, thin, flexible tube which can be inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or groin and threaded through to the heart.


A waxy, fat-like compound found in animal products such as animal fats/oils, milk, and egg yolks. It can also be found in various organs and cells in the human body including the myelin sheaths of nerve fibres, liver, kidney, and adrenal glands.

Congenital heart disease

A defect of the heart which is present at the time of a person’s birth.

Congestive heart failure

A condition in which the heart is unable to pump out blood effectively, leading to the accumulation of blood and fluid in the lungs and other organs.

Coronary angiography

Another term for angiocardiography. A test which shows whether a person’s coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by taking X-rays of these arteries after injecting a dye into them.

Coronary angioplasty

Short for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or “balloon” angioplasty. It is a method of improving blood supply to heart muscle. This is done by inserting a catheter (thin tube) with a small inflatable balloon at its tip into an artery in the forearm or groin and threading it (the catheter) through a narrowed coronary artery. The balloon is then inflated so that it compresses the fatty deposits responsible for the constriction, thereby widening the affected artery.

Coronary arteries

The two arteries branching from the aorta and supplying blood to the heart.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)

An operation carried out to bypass a constricted section of a coronary artery by grafting a section of a healthy blood vessel from another part of the patient’s body.

Creatinine kinase

An enzyme of contractile muscle cells which may be found in the bloodstream after a heart attack.

CT scan

Short for computed tomography scan. A scanning method used to capture cross-sectional images of the patient’s heart and its surrounding blood vessels.