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Adrenaline Hormone produced by the adrenal glands

which lie on top of each kidney. Called

the "fear, flight or fight" hormone, it is
released in times of danger or stress and
prepares the body for action by increasing
heartbeat and raising blood pressure.

Angina Heart disorder caused by a narrowing of

(angina pectoris) the coronary arteries that feed the heart
muscle. These are unable to supply the
increased blood demanded by the heart
muscle when its rate increases during
(angina = strangling, pectoris = chest)

Balloon angioplasty An operation used to treat angina. A small

tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery
in the arm or leg. It is pushed up to the
coronary artery. A small balloon at the tip
of the tube is inflated to push a wire mesh
against the wall of the artery and widen it.
(angio = vessel, plasty = moulding)

Aorta The main artery of the body which leaves

the left ventricle of the heart carrying
oxygenated blood to the head and body.

Artery Blood vessel which carries blood away

from the heart towards the capillaries. The
thick walls contain a large amount of
muscle and elastic tissue and are lined by

Anti-diuretic Hormone released from the pituitary

(hormone) gland which is involved in the regulation
of the body's water content. It instructs
the kidneys to conserve water and
produce a small volume of concentrated
(anti = against, diuresis = urine
Atherosclerosis A build up of fatty deposits on the inside
of arteries.
(athero = thick, sclerosis = hardening of

Atrium One of the heart's "collecting" chambers.

Receives blood entering the heart before
being pushed into the corresponding
ventricle. Plural is "atria".

Blood clot A mesh of fibres that trap red blood cells

to form a plug and prevent the loss of
blood from a damaged blood vessel. Can
be seen as the scab that forms over a cut
in the skin.

Capillary Very small blood vessel with walls made

of a single layer of epithelial cells.
Exchange of materials, such as nutrients,
oxygen and carbon dioxide, takes place
between the blood and the cells of the
body across the permeable capillary walls.

Cholesterol A type of fat that is found especially in

foods containing animal fats (butter, red
meat and milk). Excessive cholesterol in
the diet causes fatty deposits to form in
the arteries.

Cell The basic unit from which all living

organisms are built up, consisting of a cell
surface membrane surrounding cytoplasm
and nucleus.
Coronary The medical term which refers to the
heart. E.g. Coronary artery is an artery
that supplies blood to the heart muscle.

Defibrillator Piece of medical equipment that supplies

an electric shock to a failing heart and
return it to a co-ordinated heart beat. Used
to treat a person suffering from a heart
(de = against, fibrillations = unco-
ordinated heart beats).

Emphysema Lung disorder in which the alveoli

become damaged and inflexible. Lung
capacity is reduced and the sufferer is
often short of breath. It also puts a strain
on heart and can lead to heart failure.

Endothermic That can generate heat within their bodies

to regulate their body temperatures. Birds
and mammals are endothermic.
Scientists use the term homoithermic to
describe the ability of certain types of
animals to maintain their body

Gland A group of cells which produce and

secrete a particular substance. many
glands pass their secretions into a tube of
duct, whereas endocrine glands secrete
hormones directly into the blood.

Glucose A type of sugar: a monosaccharide with

six carbon atoms (a hexose sugar).
Heart attack Medical condition where the heart beats
irregularly and in an unco-ordinated way.
It fails to pump blood properly and, if
untreated, can be fatal.

Hormone A chemical messenger produced by a

particular gland or cells of the endocrine
system. Hormones are transported
throughout the body in the blood stream
but they produce a response only in
specific target cells.

Hypertension Medical term for high blood pressure.

(hyper = above the normal, tension =

mm of mercury This is a unit of pressure. 76 mm of

mercury is the same as atmospheric
pressure. 120mmHg is about 1.5 times the
pressure of the atmosphere.

Myocardial An area of heart muscle that has been

infarction killed due to oxygen starvation during a
heart attack or by a blockage of a
coronary artery.
(myocardial = heart muscle, infarct =
dead tissue)

Oxygenated When red blood cells have visited the

lungs and are fully "loaded" with oxygen.
The haemoglobin is in the form of
Paralysis Inability to move.

Platelets The smallest component of blood.

Platelets break open and cause clotting
when they encounter a damaged or
leaking blood vessel.

Pulmonary Medical term that relates to the lungs. E.g.

the pulmonary artery carries blood from
the heart to the lungs.

Sphygmomanometer Piece of equipment that is used to

measure blood pressure. Older versions
use a mercury U-tube manometer but
more modern ones measure the pressure
(sphygmo = referring to blood,
manometer = device for measuring
pressurewhich has u-shaped tube
containing mercury)

Thrombolytic Hormone or drug that stimulates the

breakdown of a blood clot.
(thrombo = blood clot, lytic = cutting or

Thrombosis Medical term for a blood clot inside a

blood vessel.
Ultrasound A method used for 'seeing' things inside a
person's body without cutting it open. It
uses ultrasound waves, which are pressure
waves like sound.

Vein A blood vessel which has valves in its

walls and takes blood from the capillaries
back to the heart. Veins have thin walls
with little muscle or elastic tissue and are
lined with epithelium.

Ventricle A muscular chamber of the heart that

pushes blood out into an artery. The left
ventricle pushes blood around the body
and the right ventricle pushes blood
around the lungs.