Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Glossary: Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Here are definitions of medical terms related to cardiac bypass surgery.

Angina: Temporary chest pain or feeling of pressure that occurs because the heart is not getting enough oxygen due to the diminished blood flow.

Angioplasty: A procedure in which a physician threads a catheter through blood vessels leading to the heart and uses a balloon or other device attached to the tip of the catheter to widen coronary arteries that have been narrowed by coronary artery disease.

Artery: A blood vessel that carries blood to from the heart.

Atherosclerosis: A form of coronary heart disease in which the inner layers of the artery walls become thick and irregular due to deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other substances.

Balloon angioplasty: A procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter is used to widen a narrowed coronary artery.

Cardiovascular system: The entire system that circulates blood throughout the body, including the heart, veins, arteries, and blood. Its main function is to transport oxygen and nutrients to all areas of the body.

Cardiac bypass surgery: This surgery involves taking blood vessels from other parts of the body and surgically attaching them above and below a severely narrowed or blocked coronary artery, to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.

Catheter: A thin tube that is threaded through the blood vessels.

Cholesterol: A fat-like material that is eaten as part of meat and other animal products, and is also made by the human body. Cholesterol has several beneficial uses in the body, but it can also be harmful when it builds up in the walls of arteries and causes them to narrow.

Chronic kidney failure: A long-term condition where the kidney does not function properly, which will impact blood pressure, hydration and the quality of the blood.

Chronic lung disease: A long-term condition that reduces the air capacity of the lungs.

Coronary angiography: An x-ray procedure in which a catheter is threaded through the blood vessels leading to the heart and special x-ray dye is injected. It enables the cardiologist to see whether the arteries in the heart are narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up or a blood clot and how severe the problem is.

Coronary arteries: The arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle. The most important of the arteries supplying blood to the heart are the left main, left circumflex, left anterior descending, and right coronary arteries.

Coronary artery disease: The narrowing of the coronary arteries caused by deposits of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that form plaque.

Diabetes: A long-term condition where glucose (sugar) metabolism is impaired. Glucose in the blood is not adequately absorbed into the cells, so too much sugar remains in the blood.

ECG: An electrocardiogram, a measurement of heart function. Also called an EKG.

Heart attack: Also called a myocardial infarction. This occurs when the heart muscle is damaged by not receiving enough blood.

Intravenous: Into a vein.

Plaque: The deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other substances inside blood vessels that cause the walls of the arteries to become narrowed.

Pneumonia: An infection in the lungs.

Recur: Happens again, comes back.

Revascularization: A broad term that describes surgical and catheter procedures that are used to restore blood flow to the heart.

Stress test: Also known as an exercise treadmill test. While you walk on a treadmill the physician monitors the electrical signal from your heart, which is recorded as an electrocardiogram (ECG). Changes in the ECG while you exercise can help the doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis.

Stress thallium test: At the end of the regular stress test, a small amount of a safe drug is injected into your veins. This allows the physician to view the heart with a special scanning device and see which parts of the heart may not be getting enough blood.

Stent: A small, metal device inserted by a catheter into a narrowed artery wall and then left in place, to help keep the artery open.

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