Understand the language of heart anatomy, heart failure testing, symptoms and devices.

Heart anatomy definitions

Akinesis — a condition in which a muscle, such as the heart, is unable to move, flex or function properly.

Antero-septal scarring — tissue damage between the left and right ventricles in the front portion of the heart, resulting from a heart attack caused by blockage of the main front coronary artery.

Dyskinesis — a condition in which a muscle, such as the heart, moves or flexes involuntarily.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy — ischemic means a lack of oxygen, usually caused by narrowing of the blood vessels. Cardiomyopathy means a disease of the heart muscle tissue. Combined, these terms refer to heart muscle disease caused by deficiency of blood flow in which the heart turns to scar, becomes weak, enlarged and does not pump blood effectively.

Left ventricle - the strongest and thickest of the heart’s two main blood pumping chambers that sends blood oxygenated by the lungs throughout the rest of the body.

Myocardial — having to do with the muscle tissue of the heart (myocardium).

Right ventricle - the main blood pumping chambers of the right side of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs to receive oxygen.

SVR — surgical ventricular reconstruction, a general term applied to any surgery that aims to reshape the ventricle.

Medical and surgical definitions

Ablation — a procedure that uses radio-frequency (RF) waves to eliminate the source of an irregular heart rhythm.

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) - a procedure in which surgeons bypass (go around) a blockage in one of the blood vessels that supplies the heart muscle.

Cardiomyopathy — disease of the heart muscle tissue.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) - the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands.

Ejection Fraction (EF) — a measurement of how well the heart pumps (ejects) blood from the chambers to the rest of the body; a normal EF is between 55 and 70, meaning that 55% to 70% of the blood in the chamber leaves the ventricle with every heartbeat.

Endovascular — existing or occurring within or inside a blood vessel.

Heart failure — refers to the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to supply the body’s demands. This is not the same thing as a heart attack.

Invasive — refers to a procedure requiring the insertion of an instrument or device into the body (through the skin or an orifice) to help diagnose or treat a medical problem.

Less invasive — refers to a surgery or procedure that is easier on the body and the patient-recovery process than a more stressful and “invasive” procedure.

LIVE — The BioVentrix acronym for “less invasive ventricular enhancement,” a new and gentler method of restoring heart size, volume and function.

Non-contractile — incapable of contracting or squeezing, for example, heart muscle tissue that cannot contract to pump blood properly.

Prognosis — a prediction of the probable course and outcome of a disease.

Thoracoscopic — within the chest cavity or chest wall.

Ventricular reconstruction — surgically restoring or resizing a ventricle, usually the left one.

Heart Testing Definitions

Angiogram — an X-ray test used to detect and diagnose problems inside the blood vessels, such as weakening, narrowing or blocking. The test uses an injectable dye that reveals problems on the X-ray film.

Echocardiogram — a non-invasive imaging test that uses ultrasound waves to produce pictures doctors use to review heart structure and function.

Heart Medication Definitions

Aldosterone antagonists — After a heart attack, the body tries to mitigate the damage, in some instances, by secreting extra levels of certain hormones. While these have a potential initial benefit, most turn out to be destructive and only enhance the problem. One of these is a natural hormone called “aldosterone,” released by the adrenal gland, which results in a worsening of the HF syndrome. Researchers have found that in many cases, giving patients a blocker for this hormone actually improves their prognosis.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — Angiotensin is another hormone secreted in HF that causes more damage. It is a chemical produced by the body that causes vessels to become dangerously constricted, raising the blood pressure and increasing the workload of the already weakened heart. Any HF patient who can tolerate it should be treated with this drug.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers — This is sometime an additive and sometimes used as an alternative to angiotensin inhibitors, since these drugs block the sites where angiotensin has the ability to affect the cell. These medications are often used in patients who cannot tolerate angiotensin inhibitor drugs.

Beta blockers — drugs that slow down the heart and lessen the body’s response to certain nerve impulses. Beta blockers decrease how hard and how fast the heart contracts, which lowers blood pressure and reduces the heart’s demand for oxygen.

Digoxin — drug used to treat heart failure and abnormal heart by helping to control the heart rate.

Diuretics — drugs that are sometimes called “water pills” because they help rid the body of excess fluids that accumulate because of a failing heart.

Regulatory Footnote

Common heart failure symptom definitions

Angina — chest pain or pressure, usually caused by blockages in the heart, but sometimes by a large or weakened heart muscle.

Arrhythmia — the heart beating faster or slower than it is supposed to, or in an irregular rhythm.

Atrial Fibrillation — an arrhythmia in which the heart’s upper chambers quiver or fibrillate (do not pump effectively), and cause the bottom chambers (ventricles) to pump at an irregular rhythm.

Dyspnea — shortness of breath.

Edema — an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body that produces swelling.

Hypertension — blood pressure that is abnormally high (higher than 140/90) and can cause heart failure.

Heart-assisting devices definitions

CRT — cardiac resynchronization therapy, an implanted heart failure treatment that uses a special pacemaker (electronic device) to help weakened ventricles pump simultaneously.

ICD — implantable cardiac defibrillator, a small electronic device implanted in the body to continuously monitor for and correct abnormal heart rhythms.

Pacemaker — small electronic device (smaller than an ICD), implanted in the body that keeps the heart beating at the proper rate. Pacemakers deliver a small shock only when needed, not all the time.

Revivent™ Myocardial Anchoring System — innovative surgical heart failure therapy that uses tiny anchors and a sterile tether to restore the left ventricle to a more natural size and volume.

Revivent TC™ TransCatheter Ventricular Enhancement System — a minimally invasive, next-generation heart failure treatment currently under development by BioVentrix. The Revivent TC works to reshape the heart in the identical manner to the Revivent System, but is placed in the patient's heart without opening their chest. The titanium anchors are placed using a hybrid approach that combines a mini-thoracotomy (small incision in the side of the chest) and a transcatheter procedure.

Rhythm management device — class of devices that are implanted in the body and connected to the heart to help it maintain a natural, healthy rhythm.

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) — a relatively large a mechanical pump that is surgically placed in chest to help distribute blood throughout the body.