Glossary

Allomap: a blood test that assesses immune activity by monitoring specific genes in your white blood cells. This can tell your health care team if you have an overactive immune system that could damage your heart.

Aneurysm: a balloon-like bulge in an artery. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to your body. An aneurysm can be caused by disease or injury.

Angiogram: an X-ray test used to show the size and shape of arteries and veins of the organs and tissue. A special X-ray contrast is injected into your bloodstream.

Angioplasty: a procedure that opens blocked or narrowed blood vessels.

Antibiotic: a medicine used to fight infection from germs (bacteria).

Aortic ultrasound: an ultrasound test to record of ultrasound echoes as they contact the aorta. This test is used to look for aneurysms.

Arrhythmia: a heart rhythm that is not normal.

Atherosclerosis: a hardening of your heart’s arteries. A buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) inside your artery makes the artery wall less flexible. (It’s like sludge that builds up in a water pipe.) Blood cannot flow through the artery as well as it should.

Benign prostatic hypertrophy (or, BPH): this means your prostate gland is larger than normal due to extra growth of prostatic tissue.

Biopsy: a procedure to remove a sample of tissue, cells or fluid.

Body mass index (or, BMI): this is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. The BMI will tell you if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. If you are athletic and have a muscular build, your BMI might not be accurate.

Bone mineral density test: a type of X-ray used to tell how thick your bones are.

Cardiac catheterization: a flexible tube (catheter) is placed into the heart. This procedure can be used to measure pressures on either side of your heart to see if there are any problems with he valves. It can also help your health care team tell how much resistance your heart has to pump against in the lungs.

Carotid ultrasound: a test that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to track a record of echoes as they contact the carotid artery in your neck. This test is used to look for narrowed or blocked blood vessels.

Cataract: a film over the lens of your eye that causes vision problems or blindness.

Cholesterol: a white, waxy substance that occurs naturally in the body and is found in foods from animals. A diet high in cholesterol can cause your heart to work harder and narrow your blood vessels.

Claudication: this means your leg muscles are not getting enough blood. You feel pain in your calves when you walk.

Colonoscopy: a procedure to look at your colon using a thin, flexible scope.

Coronary angiogram: an X-ray contrast is injected through a catheter into the arteries and left ventricle of your heart. A series of X-rays will show any blockages of blood flow, show how well your left ventricle is working, and show if you have leaky valves.

CT (or, CAT): a scan of your chest, abdomen and pelvis. It can help rule out the possibility of other diseases or tumors.

Cytomegalovirus (or, CMV): a common virus (germ) that can cause an infection.

Diabetes: a disease that keeps your body from using glucose well. It occurs when your body has trouble moving the glucose from your blood into your cells where it breaks down. This causes the glucose level in your blood to rise and it acts like a poison.

Echocardiogram: an ultrasound of the heart that shows the pumping action, size and valves of the heart. Pictures of the heart appear on a screen and are recorded on tape.

Ejection fraction: this is the percentage of blood in your heart that is ejected with each beat. A healthy heart will eject 60 percent or more.

Electrocardiogram (or, EKG, ECG): a test that uses sticky electrodes placed on your chest, arms and legs. The machine records electrical activity of your heart as a series of wave lines on a moving strip. This shows your heart’s rhythm and rate.

End-stage renal disease: this is kidney failure that cannot be cured. Dialysis or transplant is needed to keep you alive.

Heart PET scan: This is a scan of your heart that used X-ray contrast to show any problems within your heart.

Holter monitor: a test that records your heart rate and rhythm for 24 hours. You wear a small, portable device around your neck. This will not interfere with normal activity.

Hyperlipidemia: this means you have extra fat in your blood.

Hypertension: This is high blood pressure; a reading of130 or higher (top number) or 80 or higher (bottom number). It is caused by too much fluid in the blood vessels or narrowing of the blood vessels.

Hypothyroidism: your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. This is common after transplant.

Immunosuppressant: a medicine that suppresses the natural response of your body’s immune system. You need this medicine so your body does not reject your new heart.

IV (intravascular) ultrasound: This ultrasound used sound waves to make an image of your arteries. Your health care team can see the condition of your arteries.

Mammogram: an X-ray image of your breast which is used for look for tumors or lumps.

MRI: a test that uses radio waves and a magnet. MRI uses a magnetic field to make three-dimensional (3-D) images of your internal organs. MRI has a greater depth than X-rays. This means he MRI can help your health care team find problems that may have been hidden in other tests.

Osteopenia: this is a decrease in the thickness of bone.

Osteoporosis: this is a disease in which the bones become extremely brittle and can break.

Pacemaker: this is a small electronic device that is placed near the heart. It will make your heart beat regularly.

Pap test: a screening test to help find cancer if the cervix or uterus.

Peripheral artery disease (or, PAD): this happens when plaque (fatty deposits) clog the arteries in your legs. This reduces the blood flow to your legs and feet.

Rejection: this is your body’s natural immune system response to a foreign object. In this case, the foreign object is your new heart.

Renal: This is the medical word for kidney.

Shingles: a virus (germ) that causes painful sores along your spinal or cranial (head) nerves.

Sleep apnea: a condition in which you stop breathing for brief moments during sleep.

Steroid: a medicine used to treat swelling (inflammation).

Stent: a procedure that opens a blocked or narrowed blood vessel with a small spring-like tube.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (or, TEE): a special echocardiogram that takes ultrasound images of your heart from a wand that is placed in your throat. A small transducer is mounted on the end of a small flexible tube that you swallow. This test gives excellent pictures of your heart because the heart lies next to your esophagus.

Transplant vasculopathy: a narrowing or tapering of your new heart’s arteries. This is usually a sign of an ongoing (chronic) rejection and is difficult to change.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018