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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Saturated Fats

Types of fat found in all foods from animals and from some plants, like coconut, palm and palm kernel oils. They’re typically solid at room temperature.


The muscular wall dividing the chambers on the heart’s left side from the chambers on the right.

Sickle Cell Anemia

A genetic blood disorder that mainly affects African Americans. “Sickled” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. They also tend to stick to blood vessel walls. This can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.

Silent Ischemia

Episodes of ischemia that aren’t accompanied by pain.

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)

A nuclear imaging technique that involves injecting a radioactive liquid into the blood, then taking a series of pictures around the chest.

Sinoatrial (SA) or Sinus Node — See Pacemaker. Sodium

A mineral essential to life found in nearly all plant and animal tissue. Table salt (sodium chloride) is nearly half sodium.


The sudden, temporary or prolonged contraction of a muscle or artery.

Stable Angina

Predictable chest discomfort that usually occurs on exertion (such as running to catch a bus) or under mental or emotional stress. Normally the chest discomfort is relieved with rest or nitroglycerin or both.


The narrowing or constriction of an opening, such as a blood vessel or heart valve.

Stent Procedure

Using a wire mesh tube (a stent) to prop open an artery that’s recently been cleared using angioplasty.


An instrument for listening to sounds within the body.


Bodily or mental tension resulting from a person’s response to physical, chemical or emotional factors. Stress can refer to physical exertion as well as mental anxiety.

Stroke (also called Apoplexy, Brain Attack or Cerebrovascular Accident)

Loss of muscle function, mental function, vision, sensation or speech resulting from brain cell injury caused by an insufficient supply of blood to part of the brain.

Sudden Cardiac Death, Sudden Death

Death resulting from the abrupt loss of heart function (cardiac arrest). The victim may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The death occurs within minutes after symptoms appear. The most common underlying reason that patients die suddenly from cardiac arrest is coronary heart disease.

Superior Vena Cava

A major vein that carries blood from the upper body (head, neck, chest and arms) to the heart.

Supraventricular Tachycardia

A condition in which heart tissue in either the upper chambers (atria) or the middle region (above the ventricles) develops pacemaker activity, resulting in an abnormally fast heartbeat.

Systolic Blood Pressure

The highest blood pressure measured in the arteries. It occurs when the heart contracts with each heartbeat. In a typical blood pressure reading, such as 120/78, the upper number is systolic blood pressure.