Glossary

Glossary

A

Abdominal aorta aneurysmDilation of main abdominal artery. The widening of this vessel causes its walls to stretch which in turn causes thinning, possibly leading to rupture. Aneurysm rupturing is very dangerous and requires urgent surgery.

AnginaPain usually felt in chest, arms or jaw. Caused by lack of blood in heart tissues.

Angio-MRIMedical exam using magnetic resonance which includes injection of a contrast agent in order to visualize blood vessels.

Angio-scanComputed tomography exam (i.e. scan) performed with injection of a contrast agent in order to visualize blood vessels.

AngiographyMedical exam which helps see blood vessels. It’s accomplished by inserting a catheter in a vein or an artery and guiding it to a precise area.

AngioradiologyMedical specialty focused on accomplishing blood vessel procedures with the help of imagery.

AnticoagulantProduct or substance that slows down or prevents the coagulation of the blood.

AntiphospholipidThe antiphospholipid protein has an important role in coagulation. Patients suffering from the antiphospholipid syndrome make blood clots too easily.

Antiplatelet aggregation actionA medication’s action that prevents platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots.

ArrhythmiaAbnormality of the heart rhythm. There is multiple forms of arrhythmias.

Arterial hypertensionBlood pressure that is too high for a patient considering his age and his risk factors.

Arterio-venous malformationAbnormal communication between an artery and a vein.

AtherosclerosisDisease of the blood vessels characterised by inflammation and lipid plaques (cholesterol). Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for strokes or heart attacks.

Atrial fibrillationAtrial fibrillation is a form of arrhythmia characterised by an irregular heart beat. This can promote the formation of blood clots inside the heart, which can migrate to the brain, causing a stroke. This is why most patients suffering from atrial fibrillation need to take oral anticoagulant medication (blood thinners).

B

Blood clotA clump that forms in the blood when it coagulates; this mass is made up of substances such as platelets and red blood cells.

Blood pressureThe amount of force exerted by the blood against the wall of the arteries.

Body mass index (BMI)A measure of a person’s height/weight ratio, calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres. It is used to evaluate the relationship between a person’s weight and health.

C

Cardiac CTComputed tomography exam (scan) concentrated on images of the heart.

CardiologyMedical specialty responsible for heart diseases.

Cardiovascular diseaseDisease afflicting the heart or blood vessels, such as heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, angina and stroke.

Cerebral arteriesArteries, or blood vessels, that send blood to the brain.

CholesterolThis soft, waxy substance is found in the lipids (fats) present in the blood. Its accumulation in the arteries causes their diameter to shrink. High cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for vascular disease such as heart disease.

CoagulationProcess in which the blood becomes less liquid, leading to the formation of blood clots.

Coronary arteriesArteries, or blood vessels, that send blood to the heart.

D

DiabetesDisease of the pancreas causing a high blood sugar level, which has many negative effects on the body.

Diastolic blood pressureA measure of blood pressure between heart beats. This measurement represents the second number in blood pressure readings.

DopplerAlso called Doppler ultrasonography. A simple, harmless and extremely useful procedure used to visualize blood vessels, which helps in diagnosing vascular diseases such as thrombosis and carotid artery diseases as well as in determining the proper course of treatment.

DyslipidemiaAbnormal levels of fat (including cholesterol) in the blood.

DyspneaA feeling of difficult, uncomfortable, or unpleasant breathing. It is a symptom that has many causes.

E

EndarterectomyProcedure consisting of removing a layer of lipid in a vessel. Classically, this intervention is done in the carotid arteries, which bring blood from the heart to the brain.

EndocrinologyMedical specialty taking care of problems of the glands, such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.

EndoprosthesisAn endoprosthesis is a metallic stent used to keep a vessel open. A vessel can be occluded, for example, by cholesterol plaques or by a tear in the wall (dissection).

G

Gestational diabetesA form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Abnormally high levels of blood glucose generally appear between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, and return to normal after delivery.

GynecologySurgical specialty responsible for pathologies of the female reproductive system.

H

Heart failureDisease of the heart muscle precluding it from pumping enough blood in the rest of the body to provide oxygen to the tissues. It classically causes shortness of breath and swelling of the legs, amongst other things.

HematologyMedical specialty that concentrates on blood cells diseases.

HeparinHeparin is an anticoagulant substance that prevents blood coagulation and platelet aggregation in order to prevent blood clots. It is used to prevent thrombophlebitis and pulmonary embolisms.

High density lipoprotein (HDL)These lipoproteins, also known as “good” cholesterol, transport cholesterol from the arteries to the liver where it is eliminated from the body. A high HDL level appears to help protect against heart attack and stroke.

Hypercoagulable stateState in which the blood has an abnormally increased tendency to clot and obstruct blood vessels.

HyperglycemiaAn above normal level of glucose in the blood.

HypoglycemiaA below normal level of glucose in the blood, which can lead to a state of shock.

I

InsulinThis hormone is secreted by the pancreas and helps convert glucose into energy vital for life.

Intermittent claudicationPain in the calf when walking, quickly relieved by rest.

L

Lipid lowering medicationDrugs used to lower blood levels of cholesterol.

LipoproteinThis organic compound is made up of lipids, which include fatty acids and cholesterol. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL)These lipoproteins, also known as “bad” cholesterol, are the primary carrier of cholesterol in the blood. Excessive accumulation of LDL in the blood can lead to the formation of plaque and block the arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Low molecular weight heparinPlays a role similar to unfractionated heparin, but is a longer-action alternative. Administered in one or two subcutaneous doses, it requires fewer blood tests and less blood monitoring.

M

Myocardial infarctAlso more commonly known as a heart attack. It refers to the death of the heart muscle following insufficient blood supply. An infarction generally occurs when a blood clot forms in the coronary arteries and reduces the blood supply to the heart, particularly if the diameter of the arteries have already been narrowed due to an accumulation of cholesterol.

Myocardial nuclear imagingNuclear medicine exam using a radioactive tracer to detect blockages in the coronary arteries.

N

NephrologyMedical specialty taking care of kidney disease.

NeurologyMedial specialty concentrating on neurologic diseases affecting the brain, spine or peripheral nerves.

O

ObesityExcess body weight, which is defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30kg/m2.

ObstetricSurgical specialty taking care of pregnancy and labour.

Obstetrical medicineMedical specialty that takes care of medical problems of the pregnant woman.

OncologyMedical specialty responsible of treating cancer.

Oral diabetes medicationOral medication that lowers blood sugar for patients suffering from diabetes.

Orthopaedic surgerySurgical specialty concentrating on bones and joints.

Orthostatic hypotensionSudden drop in blood pressure upon standing up, which can cause dizziness, blurred vision or even transient loss of consciousness.

P

Peripheral vascular diseaseDisease of the arteries in the legs leading to lack of blood and oxygen, causing pain.

PhlebitisFormation of a clot in a vein, generally in one of the veins of the legs.

Platelet aggregation inhibitorMedication that prevents blood clots by inhibiting platelets from aggregating or clumping.

PlateletsComponents of the blood that allow the blood to clot normally. They play an important role in normal blood coagulation.

PneumologyMedical specialty which takes care of lung diseases.

Primary preventionDisease prevention measures used before someone had any event.

Pulmonary embolismSerious disorder caused by the sudden closure of a pulmonary vessel.

R

RadiotherapyTreatment modality used in certain cancers. Rays are sent towards a precise point to destroy cancerous cells.

RhumatologyMedical specialty which treats inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.

S

Saturated fatFats or lipids which are usually solid at room temperature and which increase the level of cholesterol in the blood. They can be found in both animal and vegetable sources of food.

Secondary preventionDisease prevention measures used after someone had an event, to keep further events from happening, or to lessen the extent of damage caused by it.

StrokeArterial occlusion leading to decay of cerebral cells. After-effects vary based on affected area but may include paralysis and loss of speech.

Systolic blood pressureA measure of the maximum pressure exerted by the heart during contraction. This measurement represents the first number in blood pressure readings.

T

Thoracic aortaFirst part of the main vessel leaving the heart to supply oxygen to the body.

Thoracic outletCompression of the arm’s vessels and nerves between different structures of the neck. Thoracic outlet can produce pain during movement of the affected arm.

ThrombolysisThrombolysis is a coronary reperfusion technique that attempts to disrupt a blood clot to reestablish the permeability of a blood vessel more quickly and completely.

ThrombophlebitisInflammation of a vein associated with thrombosis, the formation of blood clots, occurring very often in the legs.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)A TIA is a short-term interruption of blood supply to the brain. It is a small stroke that impedes blood flow and causes a short and abrupt decrease in brain function that generally lasts only for a few minutes or hours.

U

Ultrasound imagingRadiology exam using ultrasounds to produce images of a part of the body.

Unsaturated fatFats or lipids which are usually liquid at room temperature. There are two types of unsaturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fat tends to help your body eliminate newly formed cholesterol, which can help prevent it from accumulating in the blood.

V

V/Q scanNuclear medicine exam using a radioactive tracer to find arterial blockages in the lung.

Vascular dementiaCognitive disease caused by affected vessels in the brain, usually by atherosclerosis or arterial hypertension.

Vascular diseaseBlood vessel issues such as hypertension, cerebral ischaemia, heart attack, angina and obliterating arthritis of inferior members.

Vascular dissectionTear in a vessel wall. Since the vessels have more than one layer, dissection doesn’t always lead to rupture. Dissection can obstruct blood flow and have dangerous consequences (stroke, heart attack, death).

Vascular graftA vascular graft is sometimes necessary when an artery is occluded. Another passage is created for the blood by connecting a conduit starting before the occlusion, and ending further, permitting the blood to bypass the diseased area.

Vascular medicineMedical specialty studying the health of blood vessels.

Vascular surgerySurgical specialty executing procedures on blood vessels.