Glossary of Terms

Anti-arrhythmic Drugs: Drugs that are used to treat disorders of the heart rate and rhythm, such as lidocaine, procaine amide, quinidine, digitalis, propranolol, atropine and others.

Arrhythmia: Any variation from the normal rhythm of the heartbeat.

Asymptomatic: Without symptoms. A person is considered asymptomatic when he or she does not exhibit functional evidence, or symptoms, of a disease or condition.

Atria: There are two atria in the human heart; they are the upper chambers of the heart. The lower chambers are called ventricles.

Atrial Fibrillation: (A-fib) Abnormal, irregular heart rhythm with chaotic generation of electrical signals in the atria of the heart.

Atrial Flutter: An irregular heartbeat occurring in the atria of the heart, it is considered one of several supraventricular tachycardias.

Bradycardia: An abnormally slow heart rate. Generally, anything below 60 beats per minute is considered bradycardia.

Catheter Ablation: Any medical procedure wherein diseased tissue is burned through contact with a minimally invasive catheter. When this procedure is done to treat cardiac arrhythmias it is called cardiac ablation.

Cardiac Ablation: The use of electrical energy to treat cardiac arrhythmias, through the navigation of an ablation catheter inside the heart. Traditionally, cardiac catheter ablation is performed manually. Newer technologies enable remote, magnetic navigation of ablation catheters, which has an exceptional safety profile.

Cardiac Arrest: Tin cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating. As a result, blood stops circulating.

Cardiac Arrhythmia: The steady beating of the heart is regulated by the normal transmission of electrical impulses across the surface of the heart. When these electrical impulses become mistimed or uncoordinated, this causes irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia.

Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the heart muscle. There are broad categories:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Abnormal thickening of the heart muscle sometime familial.

Dilated cardiomyopathy: Abnormal thinning of the heart muscle often with chamber enlargement.

Cardioversion: Cardioversion is a brief procedure in which an electrical current, or shock, is given to the heart muscle to restore the normal rhythm. Cardioversion can also be performed with drugs

Carotid Sinus Massage: A specific style of neck massage that can slow the heart rate. This should be attempted by only by trained professionals, and never by a layperson on his/herself or others.

Congestive Heart Failure: Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump the amount of needed blood to the body. This results from any anatomic or chemical abnormality that leads to congestion in the body and/or lung tissues. Congestive heart failure may develop gradually over several years or it can be acute. It can be treated by drugs, in some cases by surgery.

COPD: Stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and refers to the diseases emphysema and chronic bronchitis in which the lungs’ airways become narrowed, causing shortness of breath.

Dysrhythmia (Arrhythmia): An abnormal rhythm of the heart.

Electrophysiology: A cardiology specialty that focuses specifically on the electrical properties of good heart health and proper cardiac function.

Heart Attack: The death of a portion of heart muscle, which may result in disability or death of the individual, depending on the extent of the muscle damage. A heart attack occurs when an obstruction in one the coronary arteries prevents an adequate oxygen supply to the heart. Symptoms may be none, mild or severe, and may include chest pain, sometimes radiating to the shoulder, arm, neck or jaw; nausea; cold sweat: and shortness of breath.

Heart Disease: A general term that refers to ailments of the heart of blood vessels related to structure or function. May be present at birth or develop after birth.

Heart Failure: Also known as congestive heart failure, heart failure refers to a condition in which the heart can no longer pump blood to the rest of the body.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator: An ICD is a small battery-powered electrical impulse generator which is implanted in patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac death due to ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

Magnetic Navigation: The use of magnets to guide a catheter into the heart for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.

Myocarditis: An inflammation of the heart muscle, myocarditis can resemble a heart attack, though the coronary arteries are not blocked.

Palpitations: A single or multiple irregular beat usually felt as a skip or momentary cessation of the heartbeat.

Stroke: The sudden death of some brain cells due to a lack of oxygen when the blood flow to the brain is impaired by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain. A stroke is also called a cerebrovascular accident, or a CVA.

Supraventricular Tachycardia: Known as SVT, this occurs when the heart beats very fast for reasons other than exercise, stress, or high fever. There are several types of SVT, including Atrioventricular tachycardia (AVNRT) and Atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT), which includes a hereditary syndrome called Wolff-Parkinson-White.

Surgical Ablation: The treatment of cardiac arrhythmias by forming scar tissue on the heart during open surgery.

Syncope: Partial or complete loss of consciousness with interruption of awareness of oneself and ones surroundings. When the loss of consciousness is temporary and there is spontaneous recovery, it is referred to as syncope, or fainting.

Tachycardia: An abnormally fast heart rate.

Ventricular Tachycardia: Known as V-tach, or VT, this is a fast but regular heart rate that originates in the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW): An abnormality of the conduction system allowing impulses to be transmitted very rapidly form the top to bottom chambers of the heart, often resulting in very fast heart rates.

Remote Magnetic Navigation: Computer controlled magnets steer catheters and guidewires with magnetic tips within blood vessels and chambers of the heart.