Desisions of the Heart
Understanding CAD | Treatment Options | Talk to Your Doctor | Resources


  • ACC/AHA evidence-based treatment guidelines - professional guidelines designed to improve patient outcomes, reduce physician bias and help standardize cardiovascular care of patients throughout the United States. Guidelines are based on key studies that compare different treatments used for the same conditions.
  • Angina Pectoris - chest pain or term0611mfort that occurs when an area of your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina is usually a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • Angiogram - also called coronary angiography, this test uses dye and real-time X rays to reveal the inside of your coronary arteries and help determine the extent of your CAD. The procedure causes little to no pain, except for soreness in the blood vessel where your doctor inserts the catheter to inject the dye.
  • Arrhythmias - are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.1
  • Atherosclerosis - is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time it reduces blood flow to your heart muscle and increases the chances of blood clots forming in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow causing a heart attack.
  • Balloon Angioplasty - is a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary arteries to improve blood flow to the heart muscle. It involves insertion of a balloon-tipped catheter into the narrowed portion of the coronary artery where it is expanded to open the diseased artery.2
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon - is a specialist who primarily treats coronary artery disease with surgery.
  • Chronic Stable Angina - is the most common type of chest pain, occurring when the heart is working harder than usual in a predictable and regular pattern. The pain usually goes away a few minutes after resting or taking angina medicine. Stable angina isn't a heart attack, but it suggests that a heart attack is more likely in the future.3
  • Circumflex Coronary Artery - branches from the left main coronary artery to supply blood to the left atrium and the side and back of the left ventricle.4
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery - is a surgical procedure that improves blood flow to the heart in people with specific types of CAD. CABG may be performed with or without cardiopulmonary bypass. It is the most common open heart surgery performed in the U.S.
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) - also called coronary heart disease, is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries and restricts the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
  • Heart Attack - occurs when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes completely blocked. If blood flow isnít restored quickly, the heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.
  • Heart Disease - often used as a synonym of ďcardiovascular disease,Ē heart disease is a broad term used to describe multiple conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Some of the heart diseases are: coronary artery disease, arrhythmia and heart failure.5
  • Heart Team - includes a cardiologist, interventional cardiologist and surgeon. It is essential that the heart team review your case together prior to making a treatment recommendation for your CAD.
  • Heart Ventricles - are the two pumping chambers; the left ventricle supplies blood to the body through the systemic circulation system while the right ventricle supplies blood to the lungs through the pulmonary circulation.6
  • Interventional cardiologist - is a specialist who primarily treats coronary artery disease with PCI, including the placement of stents, in the catheterization lab.
  • Ischemia - the restriction of blood flow to an organ, such as the heart, that can result in temporary or permanent tissue damage.
  • Left Anterior Descending (LAD) Coronary Artery - branches from the left main coronary artery to supply blood to the front and bottom of the left ventricle and the front of the septum, which is the wall that separates the right and left ventricles.7
  • Left Main Coronary Artery - also called the left main trunk, branches from the aorta and is essential to supplying blood to the left ventricle, which is the heartís main pumping chamber, providing blood to the body.8
  • Medical Cardiologist - is a specialist who primarily treats heart disease with medications.
  • Off-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (OPCAB) - also called beating heart surgery is performed without cardiopulmonary bypass. Technological advances and new operating equipment allow surgeons to stabilize portions of the beating heart during surgery. With present technology, all of the coronary arteries can be bypassed off-pump. It may be ideal for certain patients at increased risk for complications from cardiopulmonary bypass, patients who have had previous strokes or mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks), and those 70 or older.9
  • On-Pump Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery - the majority of open heart surgery cases are performed using cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), or a heart-lung machine that supports critical physiological functions for the patientís body while the heart is being operated on.10
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) - the term encompasses a variety of procedures used to treat patients with CAD. Typically, PCI involves angioplasty in which a balloon is expanded in the artery narrowing to crush away plaque, and an expandable stent (a wire mesh tube) is inserted to prevent the stretched artery wall from reclosing and causing complications such as a heart attack.
  • Posterior Descending Artery - is the main branch of the right coronary artery and supplies blood to the bottom portion of both ventricles and back of the septum.11
  • Right Coronary Artery - branches from the aorta and is essential to supplying blood to the right side of the heart, which pumps blood to the lungs.12
  • Right Marginal Artery - branches from the right coronary artery and supplies blood to the bottom portion of both ventricles and back of the septum.13
  • Restenosis - typically refers to the reclosure of a blood vessel after PCI.
  • Stent - is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery thatís recently been cleared using angioplasty. Newer stents are coated with drugs to reduce complications of restenosis.
Source for all definitions except for those references is the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association 2009 Heart and Stroke facts.

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