Glossary

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ACE Inhibitors:
Medications that work by inhibiting the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes the arteries to constrict or narrow. The ACE Inhibitors cause the arteries to relax, which allows blood pressure to go down. Also known as angiotensin-converting enzyme.
Adrenal Gland:
Small glandular organs located near the kidneys.
Adrenaline:
A hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It helps the liver release glucose, or sugar, and limits the release of insulin. It also makes the heart beat faster and can raise blood pressure.
Aldosteronism:
A disorder of the adrenal gland that includes the following symptoms: muscle weakness, periodic paralysis, and/or muscle cramps.
Alpha Blockers:
Medications that work by reducing the nerve impulses to blood vessels. These reduce the tone of the blood vessels, causing blood to easily pass through to decrease blood pressure. Also known as alpha-adrenergic blockers.
Angina:
Chest pains caused by a reduction of the oxygen supply to the heart.
Angina Pectoris:
Chest pains caused by a reduction of the oxygen supply to the heart.
Angiotensin:
A chemical whose production is stimulated by the presence of renin. It causes the arteries to narrow, which in turn raises the blood pressure.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARB):
A type of blood pressure medication that shields the blood vessels from the effects of angiotensin II — a blood vessel constrictor. As a result, the blood vessels dilate, or widen, to make the blood pressure go down.
Anti-hypertensives:
Medications that help lower high blood pressure.
Aorta:
The large arterial trunk that carries blood from the heart to be distributed by branch arteries throughout the body.
Arteries:
The largest blood vessels leading away from the heart and toward the rest of the body.
Arterioles:
Peripheral blood vessels. Arterioles have smooth muscle in their walls and when they squeeze down your blood pressure rises.
Arteriosclerosis:
A general term for the thickening and hardening of arteries. Arteriosclerosis in the coronary arteries reduces the amount of blood that reaches and nourishes the muscle of the heart.
Atherosclerosis:
A type of arteriosclerosis that involves deposits of plaque in the inner lining of large and medium-sized arteries.
Atherosclerotic Lesions:
An abnormal change in structure of an organ or part due to atherosclerosis. The deposits may contain fatty, fibro fatty, fibrotic, and calcified material.
Atria:
The upper chambers of the heart. Atria receive blood that is being returned to the heart. The right atrium receives blood with little oxygen because the blood has already circulated throughout your body delivering oxygen and nutrients. The left atrium fills with newly oxygenated blood returning from your lungs. When the atria pump, they push the blood through valves into the relaxed ventricles.
Atrium:
One of the two upper chambers of the heart. Also known as the atria.
Baselines:
Reference points.
Beta Blockers:
Medications that work by blocking the effects of adrenaline or nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels that speed up the heart rate and pumping action. Beta-blockers make the heart beat slower and less forcefully. Also known as beta-adrenergic blockers.
Blood Glucose:
A blood test to evaluate your blood sugar level.
Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure refers to the force that your heart creates in order to push blood to the organs of your body. Blood pressure results from two forces. The first is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The second is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN):
Blood urea nitrogen is a byproduct of energy metabolism. This means that muscle cells utilize glucose for energy, and in the process BUN is produced. This is typically excreted in the urine.
Blood Vessels:
A tube or canal, such as an artery or vein, in which blood is contained and conveyed, or circulated.
Body Mass Index (BMI):
A measurement to determine if someone is overweight. BMI relates weight to height. It gives an approximation of total body fat, which increases the risk of obesity-related diseases. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9; obesity is defined as a BMI equal to or more than 30.
BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen):
BUN is a byproduct of energy metabolism. This means that muscle cells utilize glucose for energy, and in the process BUN is produced. This is typically excreted in the urine.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers inhibit the flow of calcium ions across the membranes of smooth muscle cells. By reducing the calcium flow, smooth muscles relax and your blood pressure goes down.
Capillaries:
Any of the smallest blood vessels connecting arterioles with venules and forming networks throughout the body.
Captopril Test:
A test to diagnose renovascular hypertension. In this test, the baseline level of renin in the blood is determined by drawing blood. Then an oral dose of captopril is given and, after a period of time, the plasma renin level is measured again. Because captopril blocks the activity of one of the proteins that renin works on, the blood pressure should fall. Both kidneys detect this decrease in blood pressure, but especially the one that has a blocked blood supply. This kidney responds by secreting a large amount of renin. An exaggerated renin response after a dose of captopril is suggestive of a renal cause for hypertension.
Cholesterol:
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids, or fats, in the bloodstream, and in all your body’s cells. It’s an important part of a healthy body because it’s used to form cell membranes and some hormones, and is needed for other functions. Cholesterol becomes a problem when there is too much of it, or it has accumulated in the wrong places.
Circulatory System:
The heart and the blood vessels (arteries, arterioles and capillaries), which are responsible for keeping blood flowing throughout your body.
Combined Alpha-Beta Blockers
As the name suggests, these medications combine the actions of both alpha and beta blockers to reduce nerve impulses to the blood vessels and slow the heart rate. Both actions lower blood pressure.
Congestive Heart Failure:
A common form of heart failure that is caused by the enlargement and weakening of the walls of the heart. It results in a person retaining excessive fluid, often leading to swelling of the legs and ankles, and congestion in the lungs.
Constriction:
The process of becoming narrower, squeezing or compressing.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD):
A condition caused by the thickening of the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. When these arteries become blocked, the heart is deprived of oxygen and can become damaged. Severe cases can result in heart attack.
Coronary Heart Disease:
A condition that reduces the blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle. Also called coronary disease or coronary artery disease.
Cortisol Measurements
The measurement of cortisol levels in urine collected over a 24-hour period of time that’s used to diagnose Cushing syndrome.
Creatinine:
A byproduct of energy metabolism, which means that muscle cells utilize glucose for energy, and in the process creatinine is produced. Creatinine is typically excreted in the urine.
Cushing Syndrome:
Overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands can result in hypertension, along with many other signs and symptoms, including changes in the distribution of fat and hair, and changes in your skin. Collectively, these changes are called Cushing syndrome, and can be caused by anything that makes the adrenal glands produce more cortisol.

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Dexamethasone Suppression Test:
A specific test to measure the cortisol level and diagnose Cushing syndrome. In a normal situation, dexamethasone suppresses cortisol production by the adrenal glands. To do the test, a person is given a dose of dexamethasone at bedtime. In the morning, blood is drawn to determine the plasma cortisol level. In the absence of Cushing syndrome, the plasma cortisol will be suppressed below a certain level. If Cushing syndrome is present, no suppression is seen. This test can be administered in a variety of ways that help determine why the adrenal glands are producing too much cortisol.
Diabetic Nephropathy:
Damage to the kidneys that develops as the result of diabetes.
Dialysis:
The process of cleansing the blood by passing it through a special machine. Dialysis is necessary when the kidneys are failing and not able to filter blood.
Diastolic Blood Pressure:
Diastolic blood pressure represents the blood pressure when your heart is resting between beats. It is the number on the bottom of your blood pressure reading.
Diuretics:
Sometimes called “water pills,” they work on the kidneys to promote the formation and excretion of urine to rid the body of excess water and sodium.
Echocardiogram:
Painless test that uses sound waves to image the heart and evaluate its function.
Electrocardiogram:
A test used by providers to determine if your heart has sustained any damage due to untreated hypertension. During the course of beating, your heart emits weak electrical signals. An electrocardiogram records these signals, and offers your provider an overall picture of your heart from a functional standpoint. Also known as an ECG or EKG.
Emphysema:
A local or generalized condition of the lung marked by distension, progressive loss of elasticity, and eventual rupture of the alveoli. It’s frequently accompanied by labored breathing, a husky cough, and impairment of heart action.
Epinephrine:
A heart stimulant in controlling hemorrhages of the skin and in prolonging the effects of local anesthetics. It’s also used as a muscle relaxant in bronchial asthma. Also called adrenaline.
Essential Hypertension
Abnormally high systolic and diastolic blood pressure occurring in the absence of any evident cause. Also called primary hypertension.
Fibrin:
A clotting material in the blood.
Glomerulus:
A small ball of capillaries. Millions of these are found in the kidneys.
Glucose:
The sugar that is the chief source of your body’s energy. It’s considered a simple sugar. Found in the blood, it’s the main sugar that the body manufactures. The body makes glucose from all three elements of food: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but in the largest part from carbohydrates. Glucose serves as the major source of energy for living cells. It’s carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Cells, however, cannot use glucose without the help of insulin. Also known as dextrose.
Heart Attack:
Death of a portion of the heart muscle caused by a sudden decrease in blood supply to that area. Also known as myocardial infarction or MI.
Heart Failure:
Heart failure means that the heart simply doesn’t function well. Either it can’t contract or “squeeze,” causing blood to flow into the arterial system, or it can’t relax, allowing the chamber to fill with blood from the venous system. In either case, the blood simply backs up and causes problems, especially in the lungs.
Hematuria:
The presence of blood or blood cells in the urine.
Hemoglobin:
A protein in the red blood cells that combines with oxygen and transports it from the lungs to body tissues.
Hemorrhagic Stroke:
A type of stroke that’s caused by ruptured blood vessels within the brain.
Heredity:
The characteristics passed on genetically to an individual by their ancestors.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL):
Referred to as “good” cholesterol because it’s the molecule that moves cholesterol from your body’s fat stores to the liver where it’s used to build healthy tissue. HDL can be increased by removing cholesterol from your diet and by exercising.
Hyperparathyroidism:
The presence of excess parathyroid hormone in the body, resulting in disturbance of calcium metabolism. It results in:
  • Increase in serum calcium
  • Decrease in inorganic phosphorus
  • Loss of calcium from bone, and
  • Renal damage with frequent kidney stone formation
Hypertension:
The medical term for abnormally high blood pressure.
Intravenous:
Administered by entering a vein.
Ischemic Stroke:
The most common type of stroke where a blood clot blocks an artery into the brain.
Kidney Failure:
A gradual and progressive loss of the ability of the kidneys to excrete wastes, concentrate urine, and conserve electrolytes. Also known as renal failure.
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH):
A condition where the left ventricle of the heart becomes more muscular due to working harder to pump against a higher pressure. LVH develops initially as a protective response, designed to make sure that the heart pumps out enough blood to all the organs of the body despite the higher opposing pressure. Eventually, the increased thickness of the heart’s walls becomes detrimental to proper function. A ventricular wall that’s thick and muscular becomes stiff and doesn’t expand easily. This causes a reduced volume in the chamber and smaller amounts of blood pumped out to the body. If high blood pressure goes untreated, this condition may lead to heart failure.
Lipids:
Fats associated with cholesterol.
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL):
Referred to as “bad” cholesterol since this is the molecule that cells take up to form cholesterol plaques. Reducing fat and cholesterol in the diet can reduce LDL.

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Menopause:
The period of natural cessation of menstruation, occurring usually between the ages of 45 and 50.
Metanephrines:
The form in which epinephrine is excreted through the kidneys.
Myocytes:
Heart muscle cells.
Nervous System Inhibitors:
They control the nerve impulses to the blood vessels, allowing them to relax and widen, which makes your blood pressure decrease.
Obesity:
Too much body fat. Obesity is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, equal to or more than 30.
Osteoporosis:
A condition that generally affects older women. It’s characterized by decrease in bone mass with decreased bone density and enlargement of bone space, producing porosity and fragility.
Overweight:
A body mass index, or BMI, of 25 to 29.9.
Parathyroid:
Small bean-shaped pieces of glandular tissue embedded in the thyroid gland. It secretes a hormone involved in calcium regulation.
Potassium:
An electrolyte that works with sodium to regulate the body’s waste balance and normalize heart rhythms. It aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain, preserves proper alkalinity of body fluids, stimulates the kidneys to eliminate poisonous body wastes, assists in reducing high blood pressure, and promotes healthy skin.
Peripheral Artery Disease:
The result of arteriosclerosis that occurs in the arteries that supply blood to your legs and feet. The decreased blood flow to your legs can lead to nerve and tissue damage.
Peripheral Blood Vessels:
Also known as arterioles. Arterioles have smooth muscle in their walls, and when they squeeze down, your blood pressure rises.
Peripheral Vascular Disease:
Peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, happens when the arteries that carry blood from the heart to your arms or legs become narrowed or clogged. When this narrowing is severe, you may have pain in your legs or arms with exertion.
Pheochromocytoma:
A tumor of the adrenal gland.
Plaque:
A substance that builds up in the blood stream, consisting of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, and calcium.
Plasma:
The liquid part of the blood and lymphatic fluid. It contains antibodies and other proteins.
Post-menopausal:
Occurring after menopause.
Primary Hypertension:
Abnormally high systolic and diastolic blood pressure, occurring in the absence of any evident cause. Also called essential hypertension.
Pulmonary System:
The body’s respiratory system.
Pulmonary Valve:
A valve consisting of three semi-lunar cusps, separating the pulmonary trunk from the right ventricle.

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Renal Arteriography or Angiography:
The radiographic visualization of an artery after injection of a radiopaque substance, primarily in the kidney.
Renal Epithelial Cells:
Cells from the kidney.
Renal Failure:
A gradual and progressive loss of the ability of the kidneys to excrete wastes, concentrate urine, and conserve electrolytes. Also known as kidney failure.
Renin:
A hormone that’s released when the kidneys work to regulate your blood pressure. Renin can stimulate the production of angiotensin, a potent blood vessel constrictor. When renin is produced, angiotensin is also released.
Renovascular Disease:
A disease in the blood vessels that lead to and from the kidney.
Renovascular Hypertension:
Hypertension that’s caused by narrowed blood vessels to the kidneys, resulting in the inappropriate release of chemicals to raise the blood pressure.
Secondary Hypertension:
Hypertension that’s caused by another physical condition, for example, a problem with a person’s heart or kidneys.
Self-monitoring:
When your provider asks you to check your own blood pressure at home in order to determine how you’re responding to a medication or lifestyle change. Self-monitoring allows you to check your blood pressure several times each day, and to keep track of it over a specific period of time.
Serum Calcium:
A test that determines the level of calcium in a person’s blood.
Serum Potassium:
A test that determines the level of potassium in a person’s blood.
Sphygmomanometer:
Commonly known as a blood pressure cuff.
Stethoscope:
An instrument used to detect and study sounds produced in the body that are conveyed to the ears of the listener through rubber tubing connected with a usually cup-shaped piece placed upon the area to be examined.
Stroke:
An interruption of the blood flow to the brain, which can lead to permanent damage and/or persistent symptoms.
Systolic Blood Pressure:
The force that your heart generates while the muscle is squeezing down, or the pressure when your heart is beating.
Thrombus:
A blood clot.
Tumor:
An abnormal benign or malignant mass of tissue that is not inflammatory, arises without obvious cause from cells of pre-existent tissue, and possesses no physiological function.
Ultrasound:
A non-invasive technique involving the formation of a two-dimensional image used for the examination and measurement of internal body structures and the detection of bodily abnormalities. Also called echocardiography, sonography, and ultrasonography.
Uric Acid:
A normal byproduct of cell metabolism. It is normally excreted through the kidneys.
Urinalysis:
The analysis of the physical, chemical, and microbiological properties of urine. It’s carried out to help diagnose disease, monitor treatment, or detect the presence of a specific substance.
Valves:
Structures that open and close in order to control the movement of blood between the heart chambers and within the veins.
Vasodilators:
These medications work by causing the muscles in the wall of the blood vessels to relax. When relaxed the vessels widen, causing the blood pressure to go down.
Venous:
Relating to or involving the veins. It’s used to describe blood in the veins, which is returning to the heart, as opposed to blood in the arteries, which is leaving the heart.
Ventricle:
One of the two lower chambers of the heart that receives blood from the atria, or upper chambers. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs, and the left ventricle pumps blood to the rest of the body.
Ventricular Wall:
Wall of a ventricle.