Words to Know

To help you better understand your condition and treatment options, we have provided a glossary of specialized terms you may hear our team use.

A1C Test
A test that measures diabetes control by assessing average blood glucose levels for the last 60 to 90 days.

Angina
Chest pain or discomfort that occurs due to coronary artery disease.

Atherosclerosis
This condition is due to fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances building up in the inner lining of an artery and is known as hardening of the arteries.

Atrial Fibrillation
Also known as AFib, this irregular heartbeat happens when the heart's two small upper chambers, the atria, quiver instead of beating regularly.

C-Reactive Protein
This antibody is produced by the liver as a result of chronic inflammation; elevated levels may increase your risk for heart disease or a heart attack.

Cardiomyopathy
This disease can set in when the heart muscle becomes inflamed and does not work as well as it should.

Cholesterol
The liver makes this substance, which is also found in animal products, such as meat and eggs; too much in the body can lead to coronary artery disease.

Coronary Artery Disease
Fatty materials that build up in the wall of the coronary artery can causes narrowing of the artery, leading to this disease.

Diabetes
This disease occurs when the body does not produce the right amount of insulin, which is the hormone that allows cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

Diastolic Pressure
This is the measurement of the pressure of blood inside the arteries when the heart is at rest; it is also the bottom number in a blood pressure reading. (Systolic pressure is pressure when the heart is contracting; it is the top number in a reading.)

Dyspnea
Dyspnea is difficulty breathing and can be a sign of more serious problems.

Dysrhythmias, Arrhythmias
These disorders cause irregular heartbeats.

Edema
The swelling that most commonly happens in the legs, ankles and feet.

Ejection Fraction
The percentage of blood pumped from the heart with each contraction or beat.

Fiber
A substance found in plant foods, also called "roughage" or "bulk," which helps with digestion and may also help lower blood cholesterol.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol
This particle in the blood carries cholesterol and helps reduce atherosclerosis; often referred to as "good" cholesterol.

Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when part of the heart muscle dies because of a sudden decrease in blood flow to that area of the heart.

Heart Failure/Congestive Heart Failure
When the heart has weakened and is not able to adequately pump blood, excessive fluid is retained, which can lead to swelling of the legs and ankles, as well as congestion in the lungs.

Hypertension
High blood pressure (the pressure of blood inside the arteries when the heart beats).

Insulin
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps the body use glucose (sugar) as a source of energy.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol
This particle in the blood contains cholesterol and is thought to be responsible for atherosclerosis, also known as "bad" cholesterol.

Myocardial Infarction
A heart attack, or when a part of the heart muscle dies because of a sudden decrease in blood flow to that area of the heart.

Pulmonary Edema
Fluid build-up in lung tissue, which is often caused by congestive heart failure.

Saturated Fat
A type of fat mainly found in animal-based foods and usually solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard, meat fat, solid shortening, palm and coconut oils; it tends to raise blood cholesterol levels.

Sodium
A mineral that directly affects the body's water balance.

Stress Test
The stress test is used to examine the function of the heart.

Systolic Pressure
This is the amount of pressure of blood inside arteries when the heart contracts, which is the top number in a blood pressure reading. (Diastolic pressure is pressure when the heart is at rest; it is the bottom number in a reading.)

Triglycerides
These fats are normally present in the blood; they come from food, excessive weight gain, consuming too much fat, alcohol or carbohydrates and may lead to increased blood triglyceride levels.

TREATMENT LOCATIONS

Our physicians at Houston Methodist specialize in heart and vascular conditions at the following convenient locations.