A:

APC (atrial premature contraction): an extra beat which originates from one of the upper chambers of the heart (atria).

Arrhythmia: an abnormal heart rhythm. This could be a heart rhythm that is too fast, too slow, or just irregular. Some examples of arrhythmias are atrial fibrillation, atrial tachycardia, and ventricular tachycardia.

Atria: the two upper chambers of the heart. The right atrium accepts blood back from the rest of the body and contains the sinus node. The left atrium accepts blood back from the lungs via the pulmonary veins.

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B:

Bradycardia: a slow heart rhythm. If associated with symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, or passing out, a pacemaker might be required. For more information see the Arrhythmias section.

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C:

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D: 

Defibrillator: a device which is used to deliver electrical energy to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. It can be used for conversion of supraventricular rhythms (i.e. atrial fibrillation) or for dangerous heart rhythms (ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation). Newer defibrillators (biphasic) have higher rates of conversion than older models (monophasic). 

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E

Echocardiogram: an ultrasound image of the heart which allows evaluation of the heart valves, the pump function of the heart muscle, and the size of the chambers of the heart.


Electrophysiologist: a cardiologist who has special training in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias as well as advanced training in pacemakers and internal cardioverter defibrillators.

Electrocardiogram: a recording of the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes applied to the arms, legs, and chest. Abbreviated as an EKG or ECG. The EKG can be a very helpful tool in the diagnosis of arrhythmias

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F:

Fluoroscopy: another word for x-rays. This is used to visualize electrophysiology catheters or pacemaker/ICD leads in the body. The electrophysiologist works with fluoroscopy every day and therefore wears lead vests, aprons, and glasses to protect his/her body. The amount of radiation a patient is exposed to during a typical procedure is minimal.

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G: 

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H:

Holter monitor: a device which is capable of recording your heart rhythm onto a tape or memory card over a period of 24 hours to evaluate symptoms of palpitations, dizziness, or lightheadedness when an arrhythmia is the suspected cause or for other various reasons. See the Holter and Event Monitors section for more information.

Hypertension: high blood pressure

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I:

Intravenous (IV): a small plastic tube that is placed into a vein to enable the administration of fluids and medications.

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J:

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K:

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L:  

Lead: a metal wire coated with either polyurethane or silicone which is attached to a pacemaker or ICD and is used to transmit the electrical current from the battery in the device to the heart muscle.

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M:  

Myocardial infarction: a "heart attack". When blood flow through an artery feeding the muscle of the heart develops a severe blockage and prevents blood from reaching heart muscle the muscle starts to die. If the blood flow is not restored quickly, the heart muscle fed by that artery dies and forms a scar. This scar can potentially form the substrate for dangerous arrhythmias in the ventricles of the heart.

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N:

Normal sinus rhythm: the regular rhythm of the heart that originates from the sinus node, a group of cells located in the upper right atrium of the heart

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O:

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P:

Pacemaker: a device used to prevent the heart from beating too slow. For a complete explanation please see: Pacemakers.

Palpitations: a sensation of rapid heart action or skipped beats in someone's chest. This is a relatively non-specific symptom which could be a sign of an arrhythmia.

Programmer: a computer used to communicate non-invasively with a pacemaker or ICD. It uses a wand or programming head which is placed over the device to send and receive specific radiofrequency waves which enable communication. The physician can retrieve important information about the device and can also change the settings in the device.

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Q:

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R:

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S:

Syncope: loss of postural tone and loss of consciousness ("passing out"). The possible causes include both bradyarrhythmias (slow heart rhythm) and tachyarrhythmias (fast heart rhythm).


SVT (supraventricular tachycardia): rapid arrhythmias which either originate from the upper chambers of the heart (atria) or involve extra electrical pathways that connect the upper and lower chambers of the heart. See the Supraventricular Tachyarrhythmias section for more details

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T:

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): a test performed via the esophagus (swallowing tube) to examine the heart using sound waves (ultrasound). It is useful to fully evaluate the heart valves or to determine if there are any blood clots present in any of the heart's chambers. Intravenous sedation is typically given prior to the procedure and the patient is asked to swallow a long tube which contains the ultrasound transmitter and receiver. The test usually takes 10-20 minutes and the results are known immediately. This test is commonly performed prior to a cardioversion (see the Cardioversion section).

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U: 

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V:

Veins: blood vessels that typically carry deoxygenated blood to the right side of the heart. Electrophysiology catheters as well as pacemaker and ICD leads are usually placed through certain veins to get into the heart.


Ventricle: the two lower chambers of the heart. The right ventricle accepts blood from the right atrium and pumps it into the lungs. The left ventricle accepts blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the aorta and to the entire body.

VPC (ventricular premature contraction): an extra beat which originates from one of the lower chambers of the heart (ventricle).

VT (ventricular tachycardia): a rapid arrhythmia originating from the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart. Monomorphic VT is typically regular while polymorphic VT is faster and irregular. See the Ventricular Tachyarrhythmias section for more details.

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W:

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X:

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Y:

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Z:

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