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Angina

Glossary: Angina

Friday, March 16, 2012 - 14:22

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to angina.

Aerobic exercise: Exercise that uses up oxygen in the blood by working large muscle groups and increasing the heart rate; endurance-building exercise.

Angina: Term for choking pain (LATIN, throat pain or choking). When coupled with the word "pectoris" (LATIN, of the chest), angina refers to a painful, constricting sensation in the chest. Angina is caused by coronary artery disease, which reduces the supply of blood to the heart muscle.

Angioplasty: An invasive procedure to enlarge a narrowed artery. Coronary angioplasty is an operation to enlarge a narrowed coronary artery.

Aorta: Great artery that arises from the left ventricle (pumping chamber) of the heart and is the starting point of the body's arterial system.

Arrhythmia: Disturbance of the heart's normal rhythm.

Arteriography: Procedure used to make an x-ray picture (arteriogram) of an artery or arterial system after injecting a contrasting dye into the bloodstream (see Coronary angiography).

Atheroma: Bulging yellow mass or "plaque" that forms within the walls lining the arteries. Atheromas (ITALIAN, porridge) contain a mix of fat, cholesterol, inflammatory cells, and fibrous scar tissue and, when deposited on the inner wall of an artery, reduce its inner diameter.

Atherosclerosis: Gradual buildup and hardening of atheromas within the arterial walls.

Balloon angioplasty: Angioplasty in which a tiny balloon is attached to the end of a catheter and is inflated against the arterial walls to flatten plaque (also known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty [PTCA]).

Cholesterol: A fat-like substance needed for the development body cells. Cholesterol is both produced by the body and found in animal foods. Although it is a necessary substance, if levels of cholesterol are too high it can be deposited on the artery wall, narrowing or blocking blood flow and leading to coronary heart disease.

Coronary angiography: Procedure used to make an x-ray picture (angiogram) of the heart's blood vessels after injecting a contrasting dye into the bloodstream.

Coronary artery: The arteries that deliver blood to the heart itself. There are three major coronary arteries.

Coronary artery disease (CAD): Narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart (also known as coronary heart disease [CHD] and ischemic heart disease [IHD]). The coronary arteries become blocked by atheromas that form within the walls lining the arteries.

Electrocardiography (EKG, ECG): Procedure used to measure the electrical activity of the heart muscle. The record produced by EKG is known as an electrocardiogram.

Ergonovine test: Test performed if angina may be caused by coronary artery spasm (also known as a provocation test). The artery-narrowing drug ergonovine(or, alternatively, acetylcholine) is injected to provoke coronary artery spasm during coronary angiography. The person's response to ergonovine is then measured.

Exercise tolerance test: Procedure used to measure the heart's response to exercise (also known as a stress test). During exercise tolerance testing, the individual is asked to ride a stationary bicycle or walk on a treadmill while a physician takes an electrocardiogram.

Fibrillation: Rapid, uncoordinated contraction (squeezing) of the heart muscle.

Isometric exercise: Exercise in which the muscles are contracted (squeezed) against resistance over a period of time, for example, weight-lifting.

Lipids: Group of fatty substances that are stored in the body and can be measured in the blood; they include high-density lipoproteins (HDL; "good cholesterol"), low-density lipoproteins (LDL; "bad cholesterol"), and triglycerides, among other compounds.

Myocardial infarction (MI): Death of tissue in the heart muscle; a "heart attack."

Myocardial ischemia: Lack of blood in the heart muscle.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in certain cold water fish and vegetable oils. Omega-3s may help to reduce the risk of heart attack by preventing blood from clotting and sticking to the artery walls.

Plaque: Bulging yellow mass (atheroma) that forms within the walls lining the arteries. Plaque contains a mix of fat, cholesterol, inflammatory cells, and fibrous scar tissue and, when deposited on the inner wall of an artery, reduces its inner diameter.

Platelets: The smallest cells in the blood; they are disk-shaped and are essential for blood to clot.

Stress test: Procedure used to measure the heart's response to exercise (also known as an exercise tolerance test). During stress testing, the individual is asked to ride a stationary bicycle or walk on a treadmill while a physician takes an electrocardiogram.

Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR): Revascularization (artery-repair) procedure in which a laser is used to cut a series of channels into the heart muscle, thereby increasing its blood flow.

Variant angina pectoris: Angina caused by spasm (sudden contraction [squeezing response]) of the smooth muscle within the coronary arteries (also known as "Prinzmetal's angina" or angina inversa). Variant angina occurs almost exclusively when a person is at rest or asleep, often between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.

Ventricular tachycardia: Rapid rate of the left ventricle (pumping chamber) of the heart.

Angina