Information & Advice For Arrhythmia Patients

Definitions and abbreviations

Definitions of the frequently used words and abbreviations related to cardiac arrhythmias.

Arrhythmia - Irregular heart rhythm

Atria - Top chamber of the heart

Atrium - Top chambers of the heart that receive blood from the body and the lungs. The right atrium is where the heart's natural pacemaker (sino atrial node) can be found

Asystole - Cessation of heart beat

A-A - Arrhythmia Alliance

AAD - Antiarrhythmic Drug

AC - Anticoagulant

AED - Automated External Defibrillator

AF- Atrial Fibrillation

AV Node - Part of the heart's electrical pathway located between the atria and the ventricles

Bradycardia - Slow heart rhythm, normally less than 60 beats per minute

Cardiac Arrest - When the heart stops beating

Cardiac Physiologist - A staff member skilled in interpreting and providing information on your heart rhythm

Cardiology Department - A hospital department where investigations for your heart take place

Cardioversion - The use of a small energy shock to stop fast heart rhythms

Catheter Ablation - A procedure to destroy or isolate the abnormal sources of electrical impulses that may be causing an arrhythmia

CHD - Coronary Heart Disease

CRT - Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy, the use of either a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator to treat heart failure

CVA - Cardiovascular Accident (stroke)

Defibrillation - The use of high energy shock to stop fast heart rhythms

Event monitor - Monitor to record heart beats

Echo - Echocardiogram, the ultrasound scan of the heart

ECG/ EKG - Electrocardiography, when wires are placed on the chest to monitor the heart

EEG - Electroencephalography, when wires are placed on the head to read the electrical output of the brain

EP - Electrophisiologist, a specialist in cardiac electrophysiology

Hand held activator - A small box allowing you to save information on your loop recorder

Heart attack - Occurs when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked by a blood clot. The blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked, causing part of the heart muscle to die

Heart block - Electrical impulses are slowed or blocked as they travel from the top to the bottom chambers of the heart

Heart Failure - When the heart fails to pump blood to the body's organ systems and keeps organs working efficiently

Implantable Loop Recorder - Monitor implanted for a period of time to record your rhythm

ICD - Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

Pacemaker - A small, sealed electrical device which is connected to you heart. A pacemaker can monitor your heart and produce electrical impulses to treat abnormal heart rhythms

PVI - Pulmonary Vein Isolation

Pulse generator - Part of the ICD which contains a battery and electric circuits

Sinoatrial node - the heart's natural pacemaker

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) - A rapid abnormal heart rhythm that begins in the upper chambers of the heart.

Syncope - Loss of consciousness due to Bradycardia or asystole

Ventricles - The two lower chambers of the heart. The right ventricle pumps blood into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps blood around the body

Ventricular Fibrillation - A fast, dangerous heart rhythm which causes the heart to stop pumping. This rhythm needs a shock to stop it and return the heart back to a normal rhythm. A cardiac arrest can soon follow if the rhythm is not treated quickly with a shock

Ventricular Tachycardia - A fast rhythm which causes the heart to pump less efficiently, and can lead to dizziness, fainting and unconsciousness.

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