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Term Definition

A mass of plaque that has formed in an artery. See also Plaque.


the progressive narrowing and hardening of the arteries caused by buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) on the artery walls over time. Atherosclerosis can reduce or block blood flow.

Atrial fibrillation

a heart rhythm disorder in which the upper chambers of the heart (atria) contract rapidly and irregularly; a risk factor for heart failure and stroke

atrial septal defect (ASD)

a type of congenital heart defect in which there is a hole in the heart muscle wall that separates the left atrium from the right atrium; this allows oxygen-rich blood to flow from the left atrium into the right atrium instead of into the left ventricle to be pumped to the rest of the body; over time they can stretch and weaken the right side of the heart, leading to heart failure

Atrioventricular (AV) node

A bundle of cells that regulates the electrical current between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, maintaining heart rhythm.


One of the two upper chambers of the heart that receive blood from the lungs or body and push it into the ventricles.


wasting away of the muscles; women with PAD may develop atrophy of the leg muscles

Autonomic nervous system

The involuntary nervous system that controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and other unconscious body functions.

B-type type natriuretic peptide(BNP)

a blood test that measures the levels of a certain protein in your blood; high levels may be a sign of heart failure

Balloon angioplasty

See Angioplasty.

Balloon-tipped catheter

A type of catheter with a balloon at one end that can be inflated in order to clear a blocked blood vessel. It is used in angioplasty or valvuloplasty.


See Valvotomy or Valvuloplasty.

Bariatric Surgery

A surgical procedure to reduce the size of the stomach and/or shorten the length of the digestive track to induce weight loss. Also called weight loss surgery, gastric bypass surgery is the most common type.

Beta-adrenergic receptors

Nerve receptors whose function is to increase heart rate, dilate blood vessels, and regulate some metabolic functions of the body. Beta-blockers work by hindering their function.


a class of drug that slows the heart rate and decreases the strength of each heartbeat, lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress on your heart; used to treat heart failure, angina, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.

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