Glossary

Ablation – Ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency waves to burn heart tissue in order to stop arrhythmias. It may cure the patient.

Arrhythmia – An arrhythmia is an abnormal pattern of the heart beat

Atria (singular: atrium) – Atria are chambers in the heart. The right atrium holds blood that needs oxygen and sends it to the right ventricle to be pumped to the lungs. The left atrium holds blood that contains oxygen and sends the blood to the left ventricle so that it can be pumped to the rest of the body.

AV node (atrioventricular node) – The AV node is the area of tissue between the atria and ventricles and forms the normal electrical connection between those two chambers. It has the task of delaying impulses from the atria to the ventricles to prevent rapid conduction.

Beta blockers – Beta blockers are a type of drug that is used to manage cardiac arrhythmias and have an anti-adrenaline action.

Bradycardia – Bradycardia is a type of arrhythmia in which the heart beats very slowly.

Cardiac arrest – Cardiac arrest is the sudden cessation of the circulation of blood as a result of ineffective heart contractions

Cardiomyopathy – Cardiomyopathy is the weakening of the heart muscle function. Having cardiomyopathy puts one at risk of arrhythmia.

Congenital heart disease – Congenital heart disease is a defect in a newborn’s heart structure and vessels. Having congenital heart disease puts one at risk of arrhythmia.

Heart attack (myocardial infarction) – A heart attack is when a piece of the heart is damaged or dies because of inadequate blood supply (e.g. due to a blocked artery). This damage is not reversible. If too much damage to the heart occurs, pump failure (i.e. heart failure) may result. Also, the damaged/dead part of the heart may be electrically unstable and cause dangerous, potentially lethal, rapid ventricular fast rhythm (tachycardia). A heart attack is NOT a heart rhythm disorder but a muscle problem which may lead to rhythm problems.

Heart failure – Heart failure is a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump an adequate amount of blood or to fill with blood is impaired. It is not the same as cardiac arrest, in which blood circulation stops.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) – An ICD is an electrical device implanted near the chest that sends impulses to shock the heart in order to control very fast beating.

Palpitation – A palpitation is an atypical awareness of one’s heart beat. The heart beats may be very fast, very slow, irregular, or normal.

Pacemaker – A pacemaker is an electrical device implanted near the shoulder that sends electrical signals to control abnormally slow beating.

SA node (sinoatrial node) – The SA node is the area of tissue on the right atrium that generates the impulses that cause the contractions of the heart. They are the pacemaker cells of the heart.

Sudden death – Sudden death is death caused by a sudden cardiac arrest – not a heart attack. This is sometimes brought on by arrhythmia.
Tachycardia – Tachycardia is s type of arrhythmia in which the heart beats very quickly.

Ventricles – The ventricles are the main pumping chambers in the heart. The right ventricle collects deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs. The left ventricle collects oxygenated blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the rest of the body.