Heart Failure Lexicon, Part 2

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a 2-part series. The first is “Heart Failure Lexicon, Part 1.

Medical terms can be incredibly confusing even for people who work in the medical field! It’s as if each different condition or part of the body has its own language. In part two of the Heart Failure Lexicon series, we will pick up where part one left off going in alphabetical order starting with the letter D.

Diastolic Blood Pressure is the bottom number of your blood pressure. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is in between beats when the heart fills with blood and is oxygenated.

Diuretics are also often referred to as water pills. They are medications that help rid the body of excess water and are commonly used to treat heart failure.

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. This test is used to diagnose many different heart problems and can visualize everything from heart tissue damage to leaking heart valves.

Edema is another word for excess fluid in the body. It causes tissue swelling in the lower legs as well as other places within the body.

Ejection fraction is the measurement of the amount of blood as a percentage that is pumped out of the heart with each beat. Normal ejection fraction ranges between 55% to 65%.

An electrophysiology (EP) study is a procedure where small catheters are inserted from either the groin or neck that go into the heart to map its electrical signals.

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a painless test that shows the electrical tracing of your heart rhythm.

An Exercise Stress Test is a test that stresses your heart to see how your heart handles it. This test usually involves walking on a treadmill that increases in speed and inclines every few minutes. This test can also be done by injecting medication into an IV to mimic exercise for people who aren’t able to walk on the treadmill.

Heart Failure is a condition that is chronic and is a condition where the heart can no longer pump blood efficiently. The term congestive heart failure (CHF) is often used interchangeably.

Hemoglobin is in blood and is what carries oxygen to the tissues of the body.

Inotropic medications are drugs that cause the heart to beat stronger and more forcefully.

Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) is a device that is surgically implanted into the part of the heart that receives blood. It then pumps blood continuously from the left ventricle to the aorta. LVAD devices are used most often when a person is awaiting a heart transplant due to heart failure.

Systolic Blood Pressure is the top number of your blood pressure. This is the measurement of the highest arterial pressure during the cardiac cycle.

Tachycardia means fast heart rate, over 100 beats per minute.

Vasodilators are medications that cause the blood vessels in the body to dilate/relax making it easier for blood to flow.

Ventricles are the lower two pumping chambers of the heart. The ventricles pump blood to the arteries.

There are many more medical terminologies that are used in the heart failure world that aren't included in this list. I hope the ones that I did include both in part one and part two may help clear up any confusion when it comes to deciphering commonly used heart failure terms!

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