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.
Gallstones are small stones that form in the gallbladder or the bile ducts, the tubes that carry bile to the small intestine. They usually don't cause symptoms unless they block the opening to the gallbladder. If that happens, you may have pain in the upper right part of your belly.
If you have a bad attack, or a second attack, you may want to
have your gallbladder removed because you are likely to have more attacks.
September 27, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Gangrene is the death and decay of tissue that usually occurs when
the blood supply to the tissue is cut off by injury or infection. After the
tissue is dead, bacteria may infect the tissue and cause decay.
Gangrene may affect small areas, such as fingers or toes that have
been frostbitten, or larger areas of tissue, such as part of the foot. People
who have impaired blood flow, such as people with diabetes, may be at higher
risk of gangrene if they have skin wounds and infections that are not treated
Gangrene is treated by restoring blood flow to the affected area,
treating any infection, and removing the dead and dying tissue. If it is
severe, gangrene sometimes requires that a part of the body, such as a finger,
toe, or foot, be amputated.
October 12, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Dennis L. Stevens, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease
Reflux means that stomach acid and juices move back up into your esophagus, the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach. This can cause heartburn, ulcers, and damage to your esophagus. When you have heartburn that bothers you often, it's called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
You can treat GERD with lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and making changes in your diet to avoid foods that make your heartburn worse. Your doctor may also suggest medicines.
October 9, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long
to empty after eating. The delay is caused by damage to the stomach nerves and
results in bloating, heartburn, and possibly serious symptoms because digestion is altered.
Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis.
Other causes include some disorders of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's
disease and stroke, and some medicines, such as tricyclic antidepressants,
calcium channel blockers, and narcotics.
The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are:
Symptoms range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms of
gastroparesis may improve with treatment using medicines that help with nausea and vomiting (antiemetics) and medicines that help the stomach
empty more quickly (motility agents). In very severe cases, a feeding tube
placed in the small intestine may be needed.
July 19, 2012
A gene is a section of the genetic material or
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in a cell. Genes, alone or in combination, determine what features (genetic traits) a
person inherits from his or her parents, such as blood type, hair color, eye
color, and other characteristics, including risks for certain
Many genes together make up chromosomes. Defects in genes or
chromosomes may cause changes in certain body processes or functions. These
changes may be undetectable or may cause genetic diseases, such as hemophilia
or Down syndrome. Genetic problems may also increase the risk for some conditions, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis and
Gene changes (mutations) can be passed from parents to children. Diseases
that run in families are often caused by genetic defects. A person may be born
with a certain genetic makeup that makes him or her susceptible or at risk for
a certain condition.
November 29, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics
Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine.
General anesthesia, which can be injected into a vein or inhaled, affects the
entire body and makes the person unconscious.
A person under general anesthesia is completely unaware of what is
going on and does not feel pain during the surgery or procedure. Anesthesia
interrupts the pain signals between a person's nerve endings and the brain. The
health professional administering the anesthesia (anesthesiologist or nurse
anesthetist) monitors the person's condition throughout the procedure.
September 30, 2011
Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD, MD - Anesthesiology
General practitioners are medical doctors who diagnose and treat
most types of health conditions or diseases and do not specialize in any
particular area of medicine. They provide basic medical service for males and females of
all age groups.
General practitioners usually complete a 1- to 2-year residency
following medical school. There is no board certification for general
August 17, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine.
Anesthetics are used to numb a specific area of the body (local and regional
anesthesia) or to cause a person to sleep through a painful procedure such as
surgery (general anesthesia).
The type of anesthesia used depends upon the procedure and the
person's health, age, and preferences. Young children usually cannot remain
still during surgery and need general anesthesia. People with certain health
problems choose local or regional anesthesia when that is an option, because it
may pose fewer risks than general anesthesia in some situations. Long or
difficult surgeries may require general anesthesia.
A person choosing local or regional anesthesia needs to be able to
lie still and remain calm during the surgery and will likely be given
medicine to help with relaxation.
The generic name is the chemical name of a medicine. This name is
the same no matter how many companies manufacture the medicine.
When a company makes a medicine, they give it a brand name (or trade name). A generic name medicine can be made by more than one company. And
each company may have their own brand name for the same generic name medicine.
So there can be more than one brand name for each generic name. Generic names
and brand names of medicines are chemically the same. But generic name
medicines are usually less expensive. A doctor may be able to
prescribe a generic name medicine if it is available and appropriate.
March 9, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Genetic disorders are diseases that can be passed from parents to
children. Some disorders may be inherited if only one parent has the abnormal gene,
while others can be inherited only if both parents have the abnormal gene.
If one or both parents have a defective gene or have a genetic
disorder, the risk of passing the disorder on to a child is the same with each
pregnancy. Having one healthy or one affected child doesn't change the odds
that future children will or will not be affected.
If the baby's mother or father or anyone in either of their
families has a genetic disorder, genetic counseling may help the family decide
what type of prenatal testing they want.
Genetic disorders that may be inherited include:
A small number of disorders occur because of a one-time mistake in a single
gene (new mutation), such as a change in a gene of one of the parents' egg or
sperm cells or because of a change in a gene of the fetus. These one-time genetic changes are unlikely to happen again in future pregnancies.
November 3, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women get during pregnancy.
You treat it by making certain eating changes, exercising, checking blood sugar levels, and possibly taking insulin shots. With treatment, most women who have gestational diabetes will have healthy babies.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born.
September 26, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Giant cell arteritis (GCA), or temporal arteritis, is an
inflammation of the blood vessels that carry blood up through the neck to the
head (carotid arteries) and those that carry blood within the head, especially
those in the side of the face near the temple. This condition can cause
irreversible blindness if not treated promptly.
Giant cell arteritis is the result of the body's immune system
reacting against itself, known as an autoimmune response. It mostly affects
people older than age 50. Giant cell arteritis causes a headache that begins as
a dull, throbbing pain on one side of the head around the eye or near the
temple. Occasionally the pain may feel like a stabbing or burning sensation. It
may also cause jaw pain and loss of vision or blindness.
A large number of people with giant cell arteritis also have a
condition called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which causes muscle pain and
morning stiffness—most commonly in the shoulders and pelvic area—along with
fever, weight loss, and a general feeling of being unwell.
Giant cell arteritis is usually treated with corticosteroid
medicine. This disease usually responds to treatment, with symptoms decreasing
within 2 to 7 days. Medicine may be needed for 1 to 2 years or more to prevent symptoms
April 13, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve at the back of your eye. This can cause vision loss. Although the cause of glaucoma isn't clear, experts think it's often related to a buildup of pressure in the eye.
Glaucoma can be easily detected during regular eye exams. It usually responds well to treatment with medicine.
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that causes the
liver to release its stored sugar into the bloodstream. Glucagon is also
available as a prescription medicine that comes in prefilled vials and syringes
and works in the same way as the natural hormone.
People with diabetes or hypoglycemia sometimes develop very low
blood sugar levels. If a person has a
very low blood sugar level and is unconscious, or if the person cannot or will
not drink or eat something containing sugar, he or she needs a glucagon
Instructions for how to give a glucagon shot should be kept with
the medicine. The expiration date should be checked often, as most glucagon
kits need to be replaced every 6 months. The shot should be given by someone
who knows how to give it correctly. A person who is having a low blood sugar
emergency can safely have more than one glucagon shot. Make sure the person's
blood sugar is checked after giving the glucagon shot. If the person becomes
more alert, carefully give a quick-sugar food or liquid.
September 20, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. It causes sudden attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness, usually in one joint. It happens most often in the big toe.
Gout usually comes on without a cause. But drinking alcohol (especially beer), eating seafood and red meat, or taking certain medicines, such as aspirin or some diuretics, can also trigger an attack of gout.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology