Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms has been compiled for your reference. Select the first letter of the word you’re searching for to begin.

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A diagnostic method in which pulses of sound are transmitted into the body. The echoes returning from the surfaces of the heart and other structures are electronically plotted and recorded to produce a “picture” of the heart’s size, anatomic shape and movements.


Swelling due to an abnormally large amount of fluid in body tissues.

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

A graphic record of electrical impulses produced by the heart.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

A graphic record of the electrical impulses produced by the brain.

Electrophysiologic Testing

A procedure used to provoke known but infrequent arrhythmias and to unmask suspected arrhythmias. Using local anesthesia, temporary electrode catheters are positioned in the heart’s atria, ventricles or both, and at strategic locations along the conduction system. They record cardiac electrical signals and “map” the spread of electrical impulses during each heartbeat.


A blood clot or other particle that forms in one part of the body, then is carried to another part of the body.


Surgical removal of plaque deposits or blood clots in an artery.


An infection of the heart lining or valves, usually caused by bacteria. People with prosthetic heart valves, abnormal heart valves, a history of endocarditis or congenital heart defects are at increased risk of this disease.


A complex chemical that can speed up specific biochemical processes in the body.


A hormone produced in a woman’s body. Synthetic forms of estrogen are used in oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.

Exercise Stress Test (or Treadmill Test)

A diagnostic test in which a person walks on a treadmill or pedals a stationary bicycle while hooked up to equipment to monitor the heart. The test monitors heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, electrical activity (on an electrocardiogram) and the person’s level of tiredness. It shows if the heart’s blood supply is sufficient and if the heart rhythm is normal.