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Patient Education


Common Heart Conditions:
Angina: Chest discomfort caused by lack of blood supply to the heart, usually due to coronary blockage (CAD). 
Arrhythmia: Irregularity of heart beat - varies from "benign" to "malignant" or dangerous varieties. 
Atrial Fibrillation: Chaotic atrial arrhythmia; usually from left atrium: predisposes patient to thrombo emboli.
Atrial Flutter: Organized rapid atrial arrhythmia related to atrial fibrillation 
Body Mass Index (BMI): Measure of body fat corrected for body surface area. Over 30 is considered the "Red Zone". Over 40 is morbidly obese and puts you at very high risk for serious health problems related to your weight. 
Please click on the link below to "Calculate your BMI" and for weight loss guidelines and techniques - 
Cardiac Electrophysiologist: A cardiologist who specializes in cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis and treatment, including arrhythmia ablation, pacemaker and implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) insertion. 
Cardiomyopathy: Disease/weakness of the heart muscle often of unknown cause. (Various Types) 
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF): Weakness of the heart muscle causing cardiac enlargement and a "back-up" of fluid into the lungs (congestion) and legs (edema). Can be caused by CAD, Cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease and hypertensive heart disease. 
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Atherosclerosis/plaque build-up in coronary arteries. 
Ejection Fraction: The amount of squeeze by the heart (left ventricle) with every beat/contraction. The normal ejection fraction is between 55-75%. (There is always a small amount of blood that is not ejected with each contraction.) Heart damage causes Left ventricular dysfunction (due to scarring) and the ejection fraction declines. A very low ejection fraction is about 20%. Best measured with an echocardiogram. 
Embolism: Blood clot ejected from heart (usually left atrium) which can cause a stroke. 
Heart Murmur: A "sound" heard through a stethoscope. May be benign/functional or significant (indicative of valvular heart disease). Best evaluated by Echocardiogram. 
Hypertension: High blood pressure. When a patient has a blood pressure measurement consistently over 140/90. Normal blood pressure increases slightly with age. 
Ischemia: Medical term for lack of blood supply to an organ. 
Left Atrium: Heart chamber prior to the left ventricle where clots can form, which can cause strokes. 
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP): Common condition where mitral valve "clicks" or sags (prolapses) into the left atrium. Usually benign. Associated with numerous symptoms, but hard to establish definite cause and effect relationship. Best detected by an Echocardiogram. 
Myocardial Infarction (MI or Heart Attack): Death of a certain portion of the heart muscle from prolonged lack of blood supply. This will eventually form a scar on the heart. 
PAC's: Premature Atrial Contractions. 
Pacemaker: A device (battery plus electrodes) to prevent slow heart rhythms. There are multiple varieties and brands and they can be very sophisticated. Pacemakers do not correct coronary artery disease or valvular heart disease. They can sometimes help improve cardiomyopathy. 
Palpitations: Sensation of "flip-flop" from irregular heart beat. 
PAT (SVT): Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia 
Pulmonary Hypertension: Elevated blood pressure in pulmonary arteries (in lungs). Best evaluated by an Echocardiogram and/or Right Heart Cath. 
PVC's: Premature Ventricular Contractions 
Rheumatic Heart Disease: Post infectious (strep) type of valvular heart disease. This is rarely seen in this country anymore. 
Sick Sinus Syndrome: A fairly common condition due to an unstable intrinsic cardiac pacemaker (sinus node) resulting in slow and fast rhythm abnormalities. This is more common as you age. 
Sinus Rhythm: Normal sinus rhythm is the sequential electrical activation of the heart muscle from the sinus node in the right atrium to the ventricles in order to achieve orderly atrio-ventricular contraction. Technically, the normal heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute(bpm). Heart rates down to 50 are usually well tolerated. Heart rates above 100 are termed tachycardia and heart rates below 60 is bradycardia. 
Thrombus: A blood clot usually from the left atrium. (Heart chamber prior to the left ventricle.) 
Valvular Heart Disease: Due to leaking (regurgitation/insufficiency) or restricted valves (stenosis). There are 4 heart valves that open and close allowing one-way flow of blood from one chamber to the next chamber or major vessels. They are the right-sided valves; Tricuspid and Pulmonic and the left sided valves; Mitral and Aortic. 


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Demetrios Panagiotou, MD, FACC
255 West Spring Valley Avenue
Suite 200
Maywood, NJ 07607