Heart Health Glossary

Advance Care Planning (ACP): The process of thinking about and communicating your wishes, values, and beliefs. ACP helps facilitate the steps needed to ensure that your wishes guide your treatment and care if you become incapable and/or unable to communicate these preferences in the future.  

Blood pressure: The force of blood pushing against artery walls. Blood pressure is highest when the heart beats – this is called systolic pressure. 

Canadian Heart Failure (HF) Guidelines: Guidelines provided by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society to support the implementation of standards of care for heart failure. These guidelines cover topics such as preventing and diagnosing heart failure and administering different treatments. 

Cardiologist: A physician specializing in treating conditions of the heart and blood vessels. 

Cardiology Fellows: Cardiologists who are doing extra training in heart failure. 

Caregiver: A person who provides physical and emotional support to family members, partners, friends, or neighbours without pay. Care and support can be given for many reasons including frailty, palliative care, long-term illness, long-term recovery from accident or surgery, degenerative disease, physical or mental disability, or age-related conditions. 

Coronary artery: Arteries that supplies oxygenated blood to the heart. 

Diabetes: A chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves over time. 

Electrophysiologist: A physician specializing in the electrical activity of the heart and treating associated cardiac problems. 

Exercise Physiologist: Trained professionals who work with patients to improve their physical health and reduce symptoms of illness or medical conditions through physical activity. 

Heart attack: When the flow of oxygen-rich blood in one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked and a section of heart muscle cannot get enough oxygen. That section of the heart muscle becomes damaged. 

Heart Failure: A condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. The occurs most commonly when the heart muscle becomes either too weak or too stiff 

HFpEF: Heart failure occurring as a result of a problem with the heart’s ability to relax, called ‘preserved ejection fraction.’ 

HFrEF: Heart failure occurring as a result of a problem with the pumping function of the heart, called ‘reduced ejection fraction’. 

High cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance found in the blood. While cholesterol is needed to build healthy cells, too much cholesterol can form deposits in the blood vessels and impede blood flow. High cholesterol is mainly caused by genetic factors, poor diet, not exercising enough, being overweight and metabolic factors. . 

Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD): A specialized pacemaker designed to monitor heart rate and pace or shock the heart back to a normal rhythm when needed. 

Medical students: Students who are participating in an accredited academic program to become medical doctors. 

Medical Residents: A medical school graduate who has earned a Doctor of Medicine degree and is undertaking post-graduate training to become a specialist. 

MyChart/myUHN: A secure website for patients of University Health Network (UHN). The website lets you safely see your appointments and results from all UHN sites as soon as they are ready. With myUHN, you can access your personal health record anywhere, anytime on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. 

Nurse Practitioners: Registered Nurses who have completed additional training. They are able to diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, and prescribe medications, and perform medical procedures. 

Patient advocate: A dedicated hospital staff member who provides direct, personalised assistance to patients and caregivers as they navigate the healthcare system. 

Person with Lived Experience: A patient, caregiver, or family member with lived experience of an illness or medical condition. 

Registered Dieticians: Trained food and nutrition experts who are able to provide teaching and counselling to patients and families. 

Registered Nurses: Individuals who have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BScN) or Bachelor of Nursing degree (BN) and have been registered to practice in Ontario through the College of Nurses of Ontario. 

Staff Cardiologist: Your primary doctor who is responsible for overseeing your medical care. 

Standard of care: A diagnostic and treatment process that a clinician should use for a specific type of patient, illness, or clinical situation. 

Stroke: A loss of blood flow caused by blood clots and broken blood vessels in the brain and resulting in tissue damage. Blood clots can form in directly in the brain blood vessels or they can form other places in the body (such as the heart) and travel up to the brain causing a blockage  

Substitute Decision Maker: The person a healthcare provider would talk to if you become too sick or unwell to make decisions for your health. 

Therapies: Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.