Medical terms and Glossary
Acidity A condition in which the body has an acid pH, which results from a buildup of environmental toxins, stress and a diet high in acidic foods such as red meat, cheese, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, caffeine and certain vegetables. Acid waste products attack joints, tissues, muscles, organs and glands. The opposite of alkalinity.
Acupuncture The stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques, originating in China more than 2,000 years ago. The most scientifically studied technique, piercing the skin with thin metallic needles, is now commonly used in Western medicine for relief or prevention of pain and a variety of other conditions.
AIDS An abbreviation for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the diagnosis given when an HIV-positive person has developed one of the indicator illnesses as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. An HIV-positive individual without any serious illness can also be diagnosed with AIDS on the basis of certain blood tests.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) A powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals in both the fatty and watery parts of cells, unlike vitamin C, which is only water soluble, or vitamin E, which is only fat soluble. It also increases the effectiveness of other antioxidants. ALA lowers total cholesterol, is beneficial in congestive heart failure and stroke and stabilizes arrhythmias. The richest food source of ALA is red meat.
Aorta The great arterial trunk that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart, dividing into smaller arteries to distribute it throughout the body.
Alkalinity The natural—and healthful—pH of the body, but most people actually are in a state of acidity. Alkaline foods include most vegetables and fruit, as well as yogurt, soybeans, almonds, buckwheat, millet and quinoa. Drinking spring water that is pH balanced or ionized water also helps restore pH balance.
Angina Pectoris Chest pain.
Angiogram An imaging test that uses x-rays to view blood vessels to diagnose a variety of vascular conditions.
Antioxidants Substances such as vitamin C and vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid and co-enzyme Q10 that neutralize free radicals in the body.
Atherosclerosis Hardening and narrowing of the arteries as a result of plaque build up. When atherosclerosis occurs in the coronary arteries, it is known as coronary artery disease; when it restricts blood flow to the brain, the risk of stroke increases.
Atherosclerotic Plaque Fatty substances enclosed in a hardened calcified coating lining the arteries.
B-Cell The abbreviation of b-lymphocyte, a type of white blood cell formed in the bone marrow, that plays a large role in the immune system. Along with T-cell count, the B-cell count helps determine how effectively the body is fighting an immune disorder such as AIDS or autoimmune disorders such as lupus.
Beta-blockers Drugs that lower heart rate by blocking the effect of adrenaline (the hormone norepinephrine) on the body’s beta-receptors and slowing nerve impulses that travel through the heart. As a result, the heart requires less blood and oxygen. Conventional medicine practitioners generally prescribe beta blockers for hypertension, congestive heart failure, arrythmias and angina pectoris .
Beta-carotene A carotenoid, the red, orange, and yellow pigments that give color to many fruits and vegetables. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.
Bioflavonoid Any of a group of water-soluble compounds present in the white material just below the peel of citrus fruits and in peppers, red and blue berries, green tea, garlic and onions. Bioflavonoids appear to have antibacterial properties, promote circulation and lower cholesterol levels. They are thought to enhance the absorption of vitamin C.
Bio-Modulation Therapy The use pure light beamed by a cold laser (not to be confused with surgical lasers) for healing purposes. The light produces an increase in cell energy and oxygen that together help detoxify the body.
Blood Serum Analysis A test of the liquid component of blood (with clotting factors removed) to indicate specific properties such as levels of glucose, lipids, hormones, metabolic end products, carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Body Mass Index (BMI) A measure of body weight relative to height, used to indicate weight ranges for underweight, normal weight, overweight and obesity.
BUN A test that measures the amount of urea nitrogen (a breakdown product of protein metabolism) in the blood.
Cardiomyopathy The name for several heart conditions, the most common of which is enlargement and stretching of the walls, making it weak and unable to pump normally. This condition can lead to congestive heart failure as well as arrhythmias and other cardiac problems.
Cardiovascular disease Technically the class of diseases that affect the heart as well as arteries and veins, but it is commonly used to refer to conditions related to atherosclerosis.
Carotid Arteries The large vessels in the neck that deliver blood from the heart to the brain.
Carotid Sonography A noninvasive procedure that focuses high-frequency sound waves on the heart’s carotoid arteries. The returning echoes are computer processed to produce a clear image that can depict plaque that narrows the arteries. The procedure also provides a picture of blood flow as it is at the very moment of imaging. See ultrasonography.
Cerebrovascular Accident Commonly called a stroke, an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain.
Chelation A process that removes heavy metals from the body using chelating agents, or chelators, which bond with the metals so they can be excreted. The chelating agent is usually administered intravenously.
Chemotherapy Anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously or injected into a muscle; others are taken orally. “Chemo” treatment is usually systemic: The drugs flow through the bloodstream to nearly every part of the body. Chemotherapy is generally given in cycles: A treatment period is followed by a recovery period, then another treatment period, and so on.
Cholesterol A soft, waxy substance found among the lipids in the blood stream. It is necessary for many body functions, including making cell walls and hormones.
Chlamydia Pneumonia The bacterium that causes bronchitis or pneumonia, a common infection that is generally not serious for younger people but can be serious in the elderly and can be associated with cardiovascular disease.
Co-Enzyme Q10 A strong antioxidant produced by the body and important for heart health. Less than optimal levels can result in damage to the heart. Also known as ubiquinol-19.
Complex carbohydrates The content of foods that is not fat, protein, water, or ash (minerals) is carbohydrate. In simple terms, complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains have a less dramatic impact on blood sugar levels than simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour.
Congestive Heart Failure A condition in which the heart muscle is weakend. Can be caused by blocked coronary arteries, viruses, and other conditions.
Coronary arteries The vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the heart muscle.
Coronary Heart Disease A condition in which the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed as a result of a buildup of plaque on their inner walls. The most common type of heart disease, it is the leading cause of death in the United States. Also known as coronary artery disease,(CAD) or atherosclerosis.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP) A protein in blood serum that is a market for acute inflammation. CRP levels can be measured with an antiserum blood test. Also known as cardiac reactive protein and high sensitive reactive protein.
Creatinine A breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle. The amount of creatinine in the blood can be tested to ascertain kidney function.
CT Angiogram Computed tomography of the chest and a noninvasive way to obtain multiple cross-sectional images of the heart and other organs and tissues of the chest. Imagery is far more detailed than a conventional chest x-ray.
Cytomegalovirus A herpes virus that can be extremely dangerous for people with compromised immune systems, including cardiac patients.
DHEA An abbreviation for dehydroepiandrosterone, one of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. It is converted as needed into other hormones.
Diabetes Hyperglycemia resulting from the body’s inability to use blood sugar, or glucose, for energy. The word diabetes actually refers to two diseases. Type 1, which normally strikes in childhood, is an autoimmune disease; Type 2 is the result of a genetic propensity in combination with bad diet, lack of exercise and obesity.
DMSA Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) is a non-toxic metal chelator that is used as an antidote to heavy metal toxicity.
Echocardiography Cardiac ultrasound that uses sound waves to produce images of the beating heart, enabling a practitioner to evaluate valves, the strength and thickness of the heart muscle and the size of the chambers in the heart.
EBCT An abbreviation for electron beam computed tomography, a sophisticated x-ray heart scan that identifies and quantifies the presence or absence of calcium deposits, in and around the coronary arteries.
Edema Swelling of any organ or tissue due to accumulation of excess fluid.
Electrocardiogram (EKG) A test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat, allowing a practitioner to see how effectively the heart muscle pumps blood from the heart.
Enzymes Proteins that catalyze, or speeds up, a chemical reaction, making the essential to sustain life because most chemical reactions in cells would occur too slowly, or would lead to different products, without then.
Essential Fatty Acids Dietary fats necessary for the body to function properly but which the body is unable to produce so they must be obtained from foods and/or supplements.
Estradiol A sex hormone present in men as well as women. The major estrogen in humans, it is critical for sexual functioning and bone growth.
Estriol The weakest of the three major estrogens. Women usually have about the same amount as men do; only during pregnancy does the level rise significantly.
Estrone One of the three naturally occurring estrogens, produced primarily from androstenedione originating in the gonads or the adrenal cortex. In premenopausal women, the ovaries supply more than half of the estrone. Estrone levels increase after menopause.
Fasting glucose The amount of blood sugar, or glucose, in the blood after a fast of eight to 12 hours.
Fibrinogen A protein produced by the liver that helps stop bleeding by encouraging clotting; high levels can cause dangerous clots within vessels.
Free Radicals Harmful molecules created as part of normal metabolism. Excess free radicals can cause oxidation and damage cells if they are not neutralized by antioxidants.
Glucose Blood sugar.
Glutathione Also known as L-glutathione, an amino acid compound that helps synthesize and repair DNA, recycle vitamin C and vitamin E, detoxify the body, block free radical damage and enhance the antioxidant activity of vitamin C. Declining levels of glutathione are linked with aging.
Glycemic Index (GI) A ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based upon the food’s impact on blood sugar relative to consuming the same amount of a sugar solution or white bread.
Gout A form of arthritis that results when crystals of uric acid form in the body’s connective tissue or in the space between bones, inflaming the surrounding area. The result is heat, pain, redness, stiffness and swelling.
Grapeseed Extract An herb with antioxidant properties that protect the body from premature aging and help build collagen and elastin, which keep blood vessels flexible. It is used for treating inflammation, heart attack, stroke, and arteriosclerosis. varicose veins and other vascular problems, as well as arthritis, bruises, gum disease, phlebitis and ulcers.
Heart attack The layman’s term for myocardial infarction.
HDL Cholesterol An abbreviation high-density lipoprotein and known as the “good” cholesterol because a high level seems to be heart protective. HDL transports cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, which removes it from the body. A level of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women is correlated with a greater risk for a heart attack and may also raise the risk of stroke.
Helicobacter Pylori A bacterium that plays a role in the development of stomach ulcers. Also known as H. pylori.
Herpes simplex A viral infection that primarily affects the mouth or genital area.
High Cholesterol Total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL or higher with LDL cholesterol of 160-189 mg/dL or higher, as measured by a blood test done after a 8- to 12-hour fast.
HIV The abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, which can weaken the immune system over time, making it unable to fight off certain infections. Although people with AIDS are HIV positive, a positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS.
Homocysteine An amino acid in the blood, an excess of which is linked to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
Hyperglycemia Higher than normal blood sugar.
Hypertension The medical term for high blood pressure, a condition in which the blood flows through blood vessels with more force than is normal.
Hypoglycemia Lower than normal blood sugar.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) Blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Also know as pre-diabetes.
Inflammation The body’s physical reaction to infection or injury, manifested as redness, swelling, or heat of a body part.
Integrative Medicine Healing-oriented healthcare that takes account the whole person (body, mind and spirit), and includes diet, fitness and other lifestyle components. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between healer and patient and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.
Laser Therapy Treatment with a cold, or low-level, laser, which (unlike those used for surgery) does not generate heat, for pain relief, reduction of inflammation, skin conditions, arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders. Cold lasers are believed to work by improving cellular repair and stimulating the immune, lymphatic and vascular systems.
LDL Cholesterol An abbreviation for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. Too much of it can build up in the walls of the arteries, helping to form plaque, which is why LDL is called "bad" cholesterol.
Licorice The herb Glycyrrhiza glabra. With high levels of flavonoids, antioxidants and phytoestrogens, it is used to reduce inflammation—including hepatitis-associated liver inflammation—boost immunity and lessen the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It can also alleviate ulcers and inflammatory bowel problems such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Lipids Fats, oils and fat-like substances that are insoluble in water.
Lipid Panel A group of tests, including total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, typically ordered at one time to determine the risk of coronary heart disease. Also known as a lipid profile.
Lipoprotein(a) A genetic variation of LDL cholesterol, a high level of which is an important risk factor for developing atherosclerosis. Also known as Lp(a).
Macular Degeneration A degenerative condition of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, and the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 65 and older. Also known as AMD or ARMD (for age-related macular degeneration).
Milk thistle A powerful antioxidant; the herb known botanically as Silybum marianum. Itprotects the liver from damage due to alcohol and chemicals and stimulates the growth of new liver cells, making it useful in the treatment of hepatitis and other serious liver disorders.
Myocardial Infarction The medical term for a heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the myocardium is severely reduced or stopped because of blockage to one or more of the coronary arteries. This is usually caused by the buildup of plaque. Also sometimes called a coronary thrombosis or coronary occlusion.
Mycoplasma Pneumoniae A bacterium and one of several infectious organisms that causes the infection of the lungs caused commonly known as pneumonia.
N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC) An altered form of the amino acid cysteine, commonly found in food and synthesized by the body, it helps the body break down mucus, synthesize glutathione and detoxify the liver. It may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Nanobacterium sanginum A calcium-dependent organism that is about one-tenth the size of the smallest normal bacteria. Longstanding infection with nanobacteria contributes to the calcification of plaque that leads to atherosclerosis.
Nattokinase An enzyme isolated from a fermented soybean product called natto, which is a staple of the traditional Japanese diet, it is prescribed as a blood thinner that can prevent and dissolve blood clots in arteries
Natural Hormonal Replacement Therapy The use of plant-based hormones “bioidentical” to those made by the body to restore hormonal balance. Hormones used include several estrogens and progesterone for relief of menopausal symptoms, testosterone and other hormones for male andropause and thyroid and adrenal hormones.
Neuropathy Nerve damage that has numerous causes, including diabetes. Nearly 60 percent of diabetics suffer from it. Also known as peripheral neuropathy.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids An essential fatty acid and a form of polyunsaturated dietary fat found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and some vegetable oils. Most people do not get enough omega-3s.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids An essential fatty acid and a form of polyunsaturated dietary fat found in corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean and many other vegetable oils although refining these oils removes the omega-6. Best sources include supplements of borage, evening primrose, and black current seeds. Most people over-consume omega-6.
Omega-9 Fatty Acids Monounsaturated dietary fat found in olive oil, avocado, most tree nuts, seeds, and peanuts. Unlike omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the human body can make these.
Osteoarthritis A joint disease that mostly affects cartilage, the slippery tissue that allows bones to glide over one another comfortably. Loss of cartilage at the joints causes pain, swelling and restricted motion Also known as degenerative joint disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Narrowing of the blood vessels outside the heart and brain. Similar to coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease, but in this case, the vessels affected carry blood to the extremities, stomach and kidneys.
Photoluminescence Subjecting blood to ultraviolet light to enhance the blood’s ability to combine with oxygen and generally activate the immune system to promote healing.
Plaque Fatty deposits that accumulate on artery walls and can eventually block the arteries. Over time, plaque also typically contains calcified crystals as well as the debris of dead cells.
Plaquex A patented intravenous treatment that uses essential phospholipids derived from soybeans to clear blocked arteries and has demonstrated effectiveness in treating coronary artery disease, angina pectoris and trauma caused by myocardial infarction or stroke.
Prediabetes According to the American Diabetes association, the state in which a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Also known as impaired glucose tolerance.
Progesterone The hormone that “opposes” estrogens in the female menstrual cycle, Levels of progesterone are low before ovulation and elevated afterward. During pregnancy, levels are high until delivery, when they drop. Men and postmenopausal women also have low levels of this hormone.
Pulmonary Arteries The two arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, where it is oxygenated.
RAST IgE Allergy Test An abbreviation for the radioallergosorbent test, which measures the amount of specific antibodies present in the blood, indicating whether or not there is a true allergic reaction to one or more substances or foods. The RAST may also be used to monitor immunotherapy. Also known as an allergy screen or allergen-specific IgE antibody test.
Saliva Testing A highly accurate method of hormone testing. In addition to testing for estrogens and progesterone, saliva tests can evaluate levels of testosterone and analyze thyroid and adrenal function, insulin resistance and even overall health.
Serotonin A hormone that helps to regulate fundamental aspects of health and well-being. Low levels of serotonin available to the brain have been linked with depression, mood swings, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), food cravings, anxiety and more.
Statins A class of drugs used by conventional medical practitioners to lower total and LDL cholesterol. Statins block a substance in the liver that is needed to make cholesterol and may also help the body reabsorb cholesterol that has accumulated in plaque on artery walls. But statins can elevate liver enzymes, impair kidney function and deplete the body of co-enzyme Q10, which is essential to heart health, all serious side effects. Nor do they reduce triglyceride levels.
Stress Echocardiography An noninvasive test that helps diagnose heart disease or monitor its progress with the help of ultrasound images taken before and after exercise. The images reveal whether parts of the heart are not receiving enough blood flow and oxygen because of blocked arteries. Also known as an echocardiography stress test or stress test.
Stroke An event that cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain. There are two main types of stroke. Ischemic stroke, the most common type, is caused by a blood clot in an artery leading to the brain; bleeding between the brain and skull causes hemorrhagic stroke.
T-Cell The abbreviation for t-lymphocyte, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the body’s immune response. The “T” stands for thymus, where the cells reach their final stage of development. A low T-cells count is an indicator that HIV has resulted in AIDS.
Taurine An amino acid important in metabolism, especially in the brain, found in meat and fish. Taurine can be effective in treating arrhythmias, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Low taurine levels have been found in patients after heart attacks. It also appears to have some antioxidant and detoxifying activity.
Testosterone A steroid hormone secreted in the testes of men and the ovaries of women. It is the principal male sex hormone but plays a key role in health and well-being for both men and women, including enhanced libido, energy, immune function and protection against osteoporosis.
Thrombosis A blood clot that blocks blood flow through an artery or vein. When this occurs in an artery in the heart, a heart attack results; when it blocks flow to the brain, a stroke results. Clots can also block veins and arteries elsewhere in the body, such as in the lungs or legs.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) A mini stroke that lasts only a few minutes that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted. Most symptoms, such as numbness on one side of the body, difficulty recalling words and lack of coordination, disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours.
Triglycerides Fats that circulate in the blood stream and are stored as body fat, they are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Tumeric The herb Curcuma longa long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory and to treat infections, digestive disorders and liver problems. It has been shown to have a protective effect on the liver, helping to clear toxins, as well as to have anti-cancer properties and appears to help prevent the build up of plaque, lower cholesterol levels and inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Ultrasonography A non-invasive diagnostic procedure that changes sound waves into an image that can be viewed in real time on a monitor. It can detect the direction, speed and turbulence of blood flow, making it useful for stroke patients, assessing blood flow in the abdomen or legs and monitoring carotid artery diseases. Also known as Doppler ultrasonography.
Ultrasound The use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body. The process is noninvasive and does not expose the patient to any radiation. Also know as a sonogram. A sonogram of the heart is called an echocardiogram.
Unstable Blood Sugar Glucose levels that rise and fall too quickly, too much or both, resulting in symptoms such as headaches, heart pounding, sweating, irritability and mood swings.
Valvular Heart Disease Any dysfunction or abnormality of the heart’s four valves, typically because the one or more of the four valves of the heart have narrowed, stiffened, fused or are blocked, interfering with the smooth passage of blood.
Vitamin C A water-soluble, antioxidant that plays an important role in forming collagen, the protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps the absorption of iron and maintenance of capillaries, bones and teeth. Also known as ascorbic acid.
Vitamin E A fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body’s cells and prevent breakdown of tissues.