Hypertension Library

What is Hypertension?

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Hypertension Library

Glossary



Angina: Chest pain that originates in the heart.

Aorta: Blood vessel that delivers oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to the body; it is the largest blood vessel in the body.

Atrium: One of the two receiving chambers of the heart. The right atrium receives oxygen-poor blood from the body. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs. The plural of atrium is atria.

Blood pressure: The pressure of blood against the walls of a blood vessel or heart chamber. Unless there is reference to another location, such as the pulmonary artery or one of the heart chambers, it refers to the pressure in the systemic arteries, as measured, for example, in the forearm.

Cardiac output: Total amount of blood being pumped by the heart over a particular period of time.

Catheter: Thin, flexible medical tube; one use is to insert it into a blood vessel to measure blood pressure.

Clinical trials: Medical studies of patients that evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

Constrict: Tighten; narrow.

Cyanosis: A bluish color in the skin because of insufficient oxygen.

Diastolic pressure: The lowest pressure to which blood pressure falls between contractions of the ventricles.

Dilate: Relax; expand.

Dyspnea: A sensation of difficulty in breathing.

Edema: Swelling due to the buildup of fluid.

Endothelial cells: The delicate lining, only one cell thick, of the organs of circulation.

Fibrosis: Process by which inflamed tissue becomes scarred.

Heartbeat: One complete contraction of the heart.

Hyperreactive: Describes a situation in which a body tissue is especially likely to have an exaggerated reaction to a particular situation.

Hypertension: Abnormally high blood pressure.

Hypotension: Abnormally low blood pressure.

Lung volume: The amount of air the lungs hold.

Mean blood pressure: The average blood pressure, taking account of the rise and fall that occurs with each heartbeat. It is often estimated by multiplying the diastolic pressure by two, adding the systolic pressure, and then dividing this sum by three.

Palpitation: The sensation of rapid heartbeats.

Perfusion: Flow.

Pulmonary artery: Blood vessel delivering oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.

Pulmonary hypertension: Abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

Smooth muscle: Muscle that performs automatic tasks, such as constricting blood vessels.

Spirogram: A record of the amounts of air being moved in and out of the lungs.

Syncope: Fainting; temporary loss of consciousness.

Systemic: Relating to a process that affects the body generally; in this instance, the way in which blood is supplied through the aorta to all body organs except the lungs.

Systolic pressure: The highest pressure to which blood pressure rises with the contraction of the ventricles.

Vasodilator: An agent that widens blood vessels.

Ventricle: One of the two pumping chambers of the heart. The right ventricle receives oxygen-poor blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs through the pulmonary artery. The left ventricle receives oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the body through the aorta.

Reprinted with permission from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Division of Lung Diseases and Office of Prevention, Education, and Control

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