Heart Health Terms

Find out the meaning of some commonly used terms related to cardiovascular disease and heart health.


Vessels that transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body

Atrial Fibrillation

A rapid and irregular heart rhythm that begins in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). As a result, the lower chambers also beat irregularly. This condition requires diagnosis and treatment.


Relating to the circulatory system, which comprises the heart and blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and remove carbon dioxide and other wastes.

Coronary heart disease

A disease in which 1 or more of the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked. Blockage of these arteries means that some of the heart muscle becomes deprived of oxygen, which results in a heart attack.


A disease that negatively affects the metabolism of glucose (sugar) and can cause changes in blood vessels that, untreated, may lead to circulation issues, development of coronary artery disease, blindness, and other health issues.

Heart failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the needs of the body. In this progressive disease, the heart starts to work harder to meet the body’s needs until it can no longer sustain the effort needed. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump out all the blood that returns to it, and the blood starts backing up in the veins that lead to the heart. This results in fluid accumulating in various parts of the body causing swelling (edema).

Heart attack

When an artery leading to the heart is blocked by a blood clot and part of the heart is starved of oxygen

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

The “good” type of cholesterol, which helps keep the body’s “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels down.


Another word for fat, which stores energy and plays a structural component in the cell membrane.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

The “bad” type of cholesterol, which contributes to plaque—it causes a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.

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