Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Find definitions for thousands of medical terms, treatments, and tests -- even health-related abbreviations, prefixes, and suffixes.
Calcium is a mineral the body needs to make bones and teeth,
transmit nerve messages, tighten (contract) muscles, and help the blood to clot
and the heart to function properly. Calcium is found in milk and milk products
(including yogurt and cheese); in certain leafy, green vegetables (broccoli,
spinach, kale); in legumes; and in some nuts.
needs to eat 3 to 4 servings a day of foods high in calcium to get the
recommended daily amount.
January 25, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Calcium channel blocker medicines prevent calcium from entering
muscle cells and blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels relax, which slows the
heart rate and increases blood flow to the heart muscle while reducing blood
Calcium channel blockers are used to treat heart conditions,
including high blood pressure, angina caused by coronary artery disease,
and fast or irregular heart rhythms. They are also used to treat
April 4, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Carbohydrate is an essential nutrient that is an excellent source
of energy (measured as calories) for the body and is the preferred fuel for the
brain and nervous system. All forms of carbohydrate increase a person's blood
sugar level, depending on the amount of carbohydrate in the food.
Carbohydrate comes in two forms: starch and sugar.
Carcinoid syndrome is a rare and malignant disease that attacks the
small intestine, stomach, and pancreas. Symptoms include flushing, diarrhea,
In carcinoid syndrome, slow-growing tumors can spread (metastasize)
to the liver, lungs, and ovaries. In later stages, this disease may result in heart
July 24, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Cardiac catheterization with coronary
angiogram is a test to check the heart and coronary arteries. It is
used to check blood flow in the coronary arteries, check blood flow and blood
pressure in the chambers of the heart, find out how well the heart valves work,
and check for problems in how the wall of the heart moves.
purpose of cardiac catheterization and angiogram is to
find out if a person has disease in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis). If
the person has atherosclerosis, this test can pinpoint the size and location of
fat and calcium deposits (plaque) that are narrowing the coronary arteries.
Results from cardiac catheterization and angiogram help
show whether treatment with bypass surgery or percutaneous coronary
intervention (PCI), such as angioplasty, may be effective.
cardiac catheterization, a soft, thin tube (catheter) is put in a blood vessel
in the arm or groin and gently moved into the heart. A special dye (contrast
material) that shows up on X-rays is injected through the catheter. An X-ray
picture on a computer screen shows the dye moving through the blood vessels and
into the chambers of the heart. X-ray pictures of the dye can check for
narrowing or blockage of the arteries.
July 20, 2011
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
Cardiac electrophysiologists are cardiology doctors (cardiologists)
who have specialized training in the heart's electrical system. They specialize
in diagnosing and treating heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) such as atrial
Cardiac electrophysiologists can be board-certified through the
Board of Internal Medicine, which is recognized by the American Board of
August 17, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is a supervised program that uses
exercise, education, and support to help people recover from a heart attack,
heart surgery, or other heart problems. Cardiac rehab programs are medically
supervised and individually designed based on a person's needs and overall
A rehab program helps people:
September 27, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Cardiac tamponade is a condition caused by too much fluid in the
space between the heart and the sac that surrounds it, called the pericardium.
This fluid collection can put weight and pressure on the heart, which means
that it cannot expand properly and so it does not fill with normal amounts of
Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition. The inability of the
heart to pump enough blood may eventually lead to heart failure.
April 5, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Cardiogenic shock is a condition caused when the blood flow in the
body suddenly and severely decreases. Blood flow becomes so low that adequate
blood is not able to return to the heart so that it can function normally.
When oxygen cannot be delivered to organs and tissue, symptoms that
may develop include pale or bluish skin; weak but rapid pulse; shallow, fast
breathing; extreme thirst; and possibly fainting (syncope).
April 26, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Cardiologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis
and treatment of diseases or conditions of the heart and blood vessels, such as
chest pain (angina), irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, heart
failure, or heart attacks.
Cardiologists administer tests that show how well a person's
heart is working, such as a treadmill test (exercise electrocardiogram). And they perform certain treatment procedures. They can
further specialize in interventional cardiology (the use of mechanical
treatment methods, such as angioplasty) or electrophysiology (treatments
involving the heart's electrical system). Also, they may specialize in treating
specific age groups, such as a pediatric cardiologist, who only treats
Cardiologists can be board-certified through the Board of Internal
Medicine, which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Pediatric cardiologists are recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Cardiovascular surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in
surgery of the heart and blood vessels. They typically perform heart surgeries
and treat people who have a blockage in the blood vessels leading to the heart
(coronary artery disease) or problems with heart valves. They may also do certain thoracic (chest and lung) surgeries.
Cardiovascular surgeons may further specialize in treating people
of specific age groups, such as pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, who only
treat children and often treat heart problems related to birth defects.
Cardiovascular surgeons can be board-certified by the Board of
Surgery in general surgery or vascular surgery. The Board of Surgery is
recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
The carotid artery travels up each side of the neck and branches
into smaller vessels that supply blood to the brain. Blood flowing through the
carotid arteries (carotid pulses) can be felt on each side of the neck next to
the windpipe (trachea).
The carotid arteries are a common location for hardening of the
artery wall (atherosclerosis) to occur.
January 3, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Cartilage is a type of firm, thick, slippery tissue that coats the
ends of bones where they meet with other bones to form a joint. Cartilage lines
the joint space between bones throughout the body, and it acts as a protective
cushion between bones to absorb the stress applied to joints during movement.
Cartilage is made up of protein strands called collagen that form a
tough, meshlike framework. The mesh is filled with substances that hold water,
much like a sponge. When weight is placed on cartilage, water is squeezed out
of the mesh. When weight is taken off, the water returns. Cartilage does not
contain blood vessels or nerves. Although cartilage is very strong, it can be
damaged when a joint is injured.
June 5, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
A cataract is a painless, cloudy area in the lens of your eye. A cataract blocks light from reaching the retina (the nerve layer at the back of the eye) and may cause vision problems.
Cataracts are common in older adults and are linked to aging. Smoking and exposure to too much sunlight are other risk factors. Cataracts can also happen after an eye injury, as a result of eye disease, after you use certain medicines, or as a result of health problems such as diabetes.
Sometimes children are born with cataracts.
Surgery is used to remove cataracts that are causing a problem.
September 26, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Catecholamines are hormones made chiefly by the adrenal glands,
located above the kidneys. The main catecholamines are adrenaline
(epinephrine), noradrenaline (norepinephrine), and dopamine.
Catecholamines increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate,
muscle strength, and mental alertness. They also reduce the amount of blood
going to the skin and increase blood flow to the major organs, such as the
brain, heart, and kidneys. Catecholamines are often released into the
bloodstream in response to stress or fright and prepare the body for
Inotropic medicines, such as dobutamine, mimic the action of
catecholamines in the heart and can help strengthen the heartbeat.
June 20, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Catheter ablation is a procedure that treats heart rhythm
problems by destroying tiny areas of heart tissue that are causing the
problems. Guided by X-rays, the doctor inserts thin tubes called catheters into
a blood vessel, typically
in the groin or neck, and feeds them into the
Wires in the catheters help the doctor identify the type
of rhythm problem and find the problem areas. Then the doctor uses the wires to
send energy—heat or freezing cold—to those areas. The energy destroys, or
ablates, the tissue. After it's destroyed, the tissue can no longer cause a
problem. The areas of tissue are very tiny. And destroying them does not affect
the heart's ability to do its job.
December 14, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Cellulitis is a skin infection, usually caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus
bacteria. Cellulitis usually develops after a break in the skin from a scrape,
cut, bite, or puncture, or after a rash.
A doctor should evaluate symptoms that can occur with
cellulitis, which may include:
Facial cellulitis in children requires immediate medical attention
to prevent potentially dangerous eye or brain infection. Cellulitis usually is
treated with antibiotics, rest and elevation of the affected area, and warm
compresses. Cellulitis may be more severe and require a hospital stay for people
who have decreased blood flow (venous stasis), long-term swelling, diabetes, or
an impaired immune system.
February 14, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
The central nervous system (CNS) is made up of the brain and the
spinal cord. The central nervous system controls thought processes, guides
movement, and registers sensations throughout the body.
The spinal cord is a single continuous structure that goes from the
brain through the base of the skull and down the spinal column. Individual
paired spinal nerves continue down to the tailbone.
Injuries or diseases that affect the central nervous system can
sometimes cause permanent loss of function and disability.
September 1, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of motor problems and physical
disorders that result from a brain injury or abnormal brain development and
that may occur during fetal growth, at the time of birth, or in the first 2
or 3 years of a child's life. The brain injury that causes CP does not get
worse over time, but symptoms may start, change, or become more severe as a
Cerebral palsy affects the muscles of a part or side
of the body or sometimes the entire body. Uncontrolled reflex movements and
muscle tightness (spasticity) occur with varying severity. Physical problems of
cerebral palsy range from mild (a clumsy walk) to severe (an inability to
control movement of the arms, legs, or muscles of the mouth and tongue). People
with severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems,
such as seizures or intellectual disability.
Sometimes the exact cause
of cerebral palsy is known, such as when brain damage follows a serious
infection or head injury. In many cases the exact cause of cerebral palsy is
Cerebral palsy cannot be cured. But a comprehensive
treatment program can help people with CP maximize their abilities and physical
strength, prevent complications, and improve their quality of life. Treatment
usually includes physical therapy and speech therapy. Medicines, surgery,
special devices and equipment, and other individualized treatments also may be
September 20, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Diabetes educators are health professionals, such as doctors,
nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, exercise specialists, and social workers, who
specialize in the treatment of people who have diabetes.
Diabetes educators teach about nutrition, exercise, medicine,
blood sugar monitoring, and emotional adjustment to diabetes. They work in a
variety of settings, such as hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and
neighborhood clinics. They may teach people in groups or individually.
Certified diabetes educators (CDEs) are licensed in their
professional fields in the states in which they practice. Most are certified by
the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators. Certification is
Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to destroy cancer cells.
Sometimes medicines are put into the blood, usually in a vein, so that they can travel to cells all over the body. This is called systemic chemotherapy.
But chemotherapy also may be:
Chemotherapy can cause side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. Some side effects go away after treatment is finished. But other side effects, such as infertility, may be permanent.
May 2, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Cholesterol is an important type of fat (lipid) that is made by
the body. It is needed for the body to function. It also is found in foods that
are made from animal products (meat and dairy products).
need cholesterol to function. But excess cholesterol in the blood builds
up in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of the arteries
(atherosclerosis), heart disease, and stroke. People who have diabetes are at
higher risk for atherosclerosis.
There are two main
forms of cholesterol:
A person's cholesterol level can be checked with a blood
June 29, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology & Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation in the airways leading to and
within the lungs (bronchial tubes). The inflammation may narrow these tubes,
which makes it hard to breathe.
Chronic bronchitis causes a persistent cough that brings up mucus
(sputum). Chronic bronchitis is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
July 10, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Chronic female pelvic pain is pain in a woman's lower abdomen that lasts for 6 months or more. It may be constant or come and go and range from mild to severe.
Many things can cause chronic pelvic pain, including pelvic infections. But sometimes the cause is a mystery.
October 30, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Chronic kidney disease happens when your kidneys no longer filter your blood the way they should, so wastes build up in your blood. This has probably been going on for years, and it may keep getting worse over time. If your disease gets worse, you could have kidney failure.
Diabetes and high blood pressure cause most chronic kidney disease. Controlling those diseases can help slow or stop the damage to your kidneys.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Mitchell H. Rosner, MD - Nephrology
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It's often a mix of two diseases caused by smoking: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Over time, it can lead to severe shortness of breath and heart problems.
COPD can't be cured, but medicines and lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms.
The only reliable way to slow COPD is to stop smoking.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
Pain is called chronic if it lasts for 3 months or longer. It's normal to have pain when you are injured or ill. But pain that lasts for weeks, months, or years isn't normal.
There are many treatment options for chronic pain. They include exercise, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, medicines, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage.
January 9, 2013
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Cirrhosis (say "suh-ROH-sus") is a very serious condition in which healthy tissue in the liver is replaced with scar tissue. The scarring keeps the liver from working as it should. For example, the liver may stop making clotting factors, which can lead to bleeding problems. Bile and poisons may build up in the blood. The scarring can also cause high blood pressure in the vein that carries blood to the liver.
October 9, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Clotting factors are substances in the blood that help stop
bleeding when a blood vessel is damaged. People who have clotting disorders,
such as hemophilia, have clotting factors that do not function properly.
When the blood doesn't clot normally, even minor injuries can cause
serious bleeding. This can lead to blood loss, injury to internal organs, or
permanent damage to muscles or joints.
Most people who have clotting disorders can successfully manage
their bleeding problems with clotting factor replacement therapy. Clotting
factors may be injected on a regular basis to prevent bleeding episodes, or on
an as-needed basis to prevent or control a bleeding episode that has occurred
or is likely to occur.
August 3, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Clubbing is a condition in which the ends of the fingers and toes
swell and the nails bulge outward. The nails wrap around the fingers or toes
and look raised, curved, and shiny.
Clubbing occurs more frequently in children born with heart defects
and people with chronic heart, lung, liver, or thyroid disease. But simple
hereditary clubbing can occur without heart or lung problems.
October 11, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
Coarctation of the aorta is a common heart defect present at birth.
With this defect, a portion of the large blood vessel that carries blood from
the heart to the rest of the body (aorta) is abnormally narrowed or pinched.
Coarctation of the aorta makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. Over time, this can lead to high blood
pressure, heart failure, or other complications.
The most obvious symptoms of coarctation of the aorta are signs of
heart failure—such as difficulty breathing, poor weight gain, sweating, and
being sleepy and fussy most of the time—and decreased pulses in the legs. This
condition is usually detected in newborns during normal blood pressure checks
and by listening to the heart. Further tests, such as echocardiography, may be
done to confirm the diagnosis.
Coarctation of the aorta requires repair by surgery or heart catheterization. If the condition is not
repaired, a person with coarctation of the aorta may not live past the age of
40 or 50.
Cognitive impairment occurs when there is a problem with
perceiving, thinking, or remembering. Strokes are a common cause of cognitive
impairment. Other causes include head injuries and some chronic diseases, such
as sickle cell disease or multiple sclerosis.
Cognitive impairment may cause difficulties with:
Therapy may help a person make the most of his or her abilities.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that focuses on changing certain thoughts and behavior patterns to control the symptoms of a condition. It's used to treat a variety of problems, such as stress, depression, anxiety and panic disorders, eating disorders, ongoing (chronic) pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
January 11, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Colonoscopy is the inspection of the entire large intestine
(colon) using a long, flexible, lighted viewing scope (colonoscope), which is
usually linked to a video monitor similar to a TV screen. A colonoscopy may be
done to screen for cancer or to investigate symptoms, such as bleeding.
Colonoscopy is done in the hospital or a doctor's office that has the
necessary equipment. Preparation for the test includes emptying the bowels
ahead of time using a laxative or enema. The person undergoing colonoscopy is
given medicine to relieve pain and to make him or her drowsy. The test usually
takes 30 to 45 minutes, but it may take longer, depending upon what is found
and what is done during the test.
A doctor will
collect a tissue sample (biopsy) from any abnormal area. The tissue is then
analyzed by a pathologist.
December 7, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Colorectal cancer happens when cells in your colon or rectum grow abnormally and out of control. It may start as a polyp, or small growth, in your colon or rectum. The cancer cells can spread to other parts of your body.
This cancer is also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer is. It is most common in people older than 50.
Treatment works best when the cancer is found early. Screening tests can help find polyps and can find cancer that is still in its early stages and hasn't spread yet.
A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that gives important
information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood, especially red
blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC helps your doctor evaluate
symptoms (such as weakness, fatigue, or bruising) and diagnose conditions (such
as anemia, infection, and many other disorders).
A CBC may be done to check for low red blood cells (anemia),
problems with white blood cells, find an infection, find diseases of the blood,
such as leukemia, or check to see if medicine or radiation treatment is
August 6, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
Congenital heart defects are structural heart problems or
abnormalities that have been present since birth.
Congenital heart defects usually have no known cause. In some
cases, they may be passed from a parent to a child (inherited). They also may
occur in the developing baby (fetus) of a woman who has an infection or who is
exposed to radiation or other toxic substances during her pregnancy.
Having a congenital heart defect increases the risk for complications, such as heart failure, endocarditis, atrial fibrillation, and
heart valve problems.
Most congenital heart defects are detected shortly after birth,
although some are not discovered for years. Some defects are severe enough to
cause death. Some resolve on their own and may not need any treatment. Babies
with large or complex defects usually require surgery. Many children with
corrected heart defects go on to lead normal lives. But they usually require
lifelong monitoring of their condition.
Constrictive pericarditis is stiffening and thickening of the
membrane sac around the heart (pericardium). Repeated or prolonged episodes of
inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) can lead to constrictive
pericarditis, which restricts the heart's ability to pump effectively.
Constrictive pericarditis can be caused by medical conditions or treatments that involve inflammation. These include radiation therapy and complications after surgery. But the cause is often unknown.
If the pericardium becomes thick and stiff and interferes with the
heart's ability to pump blood, it can be removed in a procedure called
pericardiectomy. Although the pericardium surrounds and cushions the heart, the
heart can function without it, if necessary.
A contracture is the abnormal shortening of muscle or other
tissue. It may be caused by muscle spasm, wasting away of tissue and muscle
(atrophy), scar formation from injury, chronic disease, or lack of use.
A contracture often develops in a joint affected by arthritis or in a
paralyzed limb. It may make it impossible to move the joint normally. A
contracture causes surrounding muscle, tendons, ligaments, and bone to shorten
or bend. And it can lead to permanent deformity and disability.
Contractures are treated in many ways, including physical therapy, casts,
June 5, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Contrast material, or contrast dye, is a substance used to make
specific organs, blood vessels, or types of tissue (such as tumors) more
visible on X-rays. Contrast material may also be used during a CT scan, an
ultrasound, or an MRI scan.
Common contrast material substances include iodine, barium, and
May 16, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Core stabilization (core stability or core strength) means using
the muscles of the trunk to support the spine and body during activity. The
trunk muscles include those in the abdomen and back, around the neck and
shoulder blades, and around the pelvis, hips, groin, and buttocks.
Core stabilization helps improve posture, balance, strength, and
coordinated movement, and helps protect the body from injury.
March 4, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & David A. Fleckenstein, MPT - Physical Therapy
Coronary arteries are vessels that provide oxygen-rich blood and
other nutrients to the heart muscle. The two main coronary blood vessels, which
branch from the body's main artery (aorta), are the right coronary artery (RCA)
and the left coronary artery (LCA).
The coronary arteries attach to and wrap around the heart's
surface. The left side of the heart is larger and more muscular because it
pumps blood to the rest of the body. The left coronary artery branches off into
The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs and related
structures. The right marginal branch usually extends from the right coronary
artery and supplies blood to the lower side of the heart.
April 6, 2012
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is done to go around a
portion of an artery that has been narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup
(atherosclerosis). It is a treatment for coronary artery disease.
The blocked portion of the artery is bypassed using a blood vessel
taken from elsewhere in the body (usually the chest or leg). Blood is
redirected through the new blood vessel, restoring blood flow to the affected
portion of the heart muscle.
April 5, 2012
Coronary artery disease happens when fatty deposits called plaque (say "plak") build up inside your coronary arteries. Those are the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to your heart. Plaque buildup reduces the amount of blood that gets to your heart. It can lead to chest pain or heart attack.
Coronary artery disease (also called CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It's also the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
Corticosteroid medicines are similar to natural hormones produced
in the body that help control many necessary functions, including blood sugar
and salt (electrolyte) levels, the body's water balance, and immune system
function. Corticosteroid medicines are often used to treat diseases that
cause inflammation, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common prescription corticosteroids include dexamethasone,
hydrocortisone, and prednisone.
Long-term use of corticosteroids has many side effects, including
weight gain, stomach ulcers, sleeping difficulties, increased blood pressure,
increased blood sugar (glucose), delayed wound healing, and a reduced ability
to fight infection. Other problems associated with corticosteroid use include
cataract formation, decreased blood flow to the hip joint that causes
deterioration of the joint (aseptic necrosis or avascular necrosis), and
May 10, 2012
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which are
located just above the kidneys. Cortisol affects almost every organ in the body
and is important for body functions such as breaking down glycogen and fat for
energy, managing stress, and maintaining blood pressure.
levels increase when the pituitary gland in the brain releases another hormone
called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Cortisol levels also rise during
times of stress.
Counseling is professional guidance to help a person, family, or
group of individuals recognize and deal with issues that are interfering with
their mental well-being. Counseling involves regular meetings (sessions) with a
qualified counselor, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed
professional counselor, or clinical social worker.
Counseling, which may also be called psychotherapy or therapy, can
be done on an individual, family, or group basis.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into his or her mouth. It is
used in emergencies when a person's heart stops beating, or when he or she stops
CPR works to move blood to the person's brain to help prevent brain
damage. CPR can help keep a person alive until a health professional arrives.
The steps of CPR are C-A-B:
March 27, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
Creatinine is a waste product formed by the breakdown of a
substance (creatine) important for converting food into energy (metabolism).
The creatinine is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and then passed out
of the body in urine.
If the kidneys are damaged and can't
function normally, the amount of creatinine in the urine decreases while the
amount of creatinine in the blood increases.
August 9, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Michael Mallea, MD - Nephrology
A computed tomography angiogram (CT angiogram) is a test that uses X-rays to provide detailed pictures of the heart and the blood vessels that go to the heart, lung, brain, kidneys, head, neck, legs, and arms. The test
uses a special dye that is put into a vein (IV) to make very detailed pictures
of the blood vessels.
A CT angiogram can show whether a blood vessel is blocked, where the blockage is, and how big the blockage is. The test can also show whether there is a bulge (aneurysm) or a buildup of fatty material called plaque in a blood vessel.
June 13, 2012
A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed
pictures of structures inside of the body.
During the test, you will lie on a table that is attached to the CT
scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine. The CT scanner sends X-ray
pulses through the body. Each pulse lasts less than a second and takes a
picture of a thin slice of the organ or area being studied. One part of the
scanning machine can tilt to take pictures from different positions. The
pictures are saved on a computer.
A CT scan can be used to study any body organ, such as the liver,
pancreas, intestines, kidneys, adrenal glands, lungs, and heart. It also can
study blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord.
An iodine dye (contrast material) is often used to make structures
and organs easier to see on the CT pictures. The dye may be used to check blood
flow, find tumors, and look for other problems. Dye can be put in a vein (IV)
in your arm, or you may drink the dye for some tests. CT pictures may be taken
before and after the dye is used.
June 13, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Cyanotic heart defects are abnormal openings between the heart
chambers that allow oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart to mix
with oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart. When a large amount of
oxygen-poor blood mixes with oxygen-rich blood, it causes a bluish tint
(cyanosis) in the skin, lips, and nail beds.
Cystic fibrosis is a chronic and progressive disease, usually
diagnosed in childhood, that causes mucus to become thick and sticky. The mucus
builds up and clogs passages in the lungs, pancreas, and many other organs in
Early symptoms of cystic fibrosis include abnormally salty sweat or
skin and a failure to thrive, which includes a poor appetite, lack of energy,
and weight loss during infancy. Some babies who have cystic fibrosis are born
with a blocked small intestine. Later symptoms include coughing up mucus and a
lack of energy. Adults who have cystic fibrosis may have fertility
There is no cure for cystic fibrosis. Management of the disease
varies from person to person and generally focuses on treating respiratory and
digestive problems to prevent infection and other complications. Treatment
usually involves a combination of medicines and home treatment methods, such as
respiratory and nutritional therapies.
June 15, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology