Learn the Real Meaning of These Confusing Heart-Related Acronyms

A WMCHealth cardiologist demystifies the acronyms of cardiac care.

By Lisa Cesarano
As seen in the January/February 2020 Issue of Advancing Care

Cardiac Conditions

AFib (Atrial Fibrillation): An irregular heart rhythm in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart that causes the heart to beat fast and irregularly, “AFib increases the risk of stroke by allowing blood clots to form in the heart that can travel to the brain or other parts of the body.”

AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction): Better known as a heart attack, this condition is most often due to a blocked artery. “If you experience chest pain or shortness of breath, call 911 immediately because ‘Time Is Muscle.’”


To make an appointment with a specialist at the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute, call 914.909.6900 or visit WMCHealth.org/heart for more information.


HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy): 
A disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, which can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.

VT (Ventricular Tachycardia): A potentially dangerous heart rhythm from the bottom sections of the heart (ventricles). “VT may be due to lack of blood supply, damaged muscle from an old heart attack or an electrical irregularity of the heart.”

VFib (Ventricular Fibrillation): Cardiac arrest or the abrupt loss of heart function. “The only way to survive VFib is to be shocked out of it with a defibrillator ASAP.”

SCD (Sudden Cardiac Death): Occurs when an electrical problem causes the heart to malfunction and suddenly stop beating.

Diagnostic Tests

Cardiac CT (CAT Scan): “A noninvasive test utilizing contrast dye to visualize coronary arteries.”

EKG/ECG (Electrocardiogram): “This offers a 10-second snapshot of the electrical activity and rhythm of your heart. It’s the most basic heart test and offers insight into past heart attacks, arrhythmias or if the heart muscle is thickened.”

ECHO (Echocardiogram): An ultrasound of the heart. “This test looks at the heart and assesses how well the heart muscle functions, as well as its valves, chambers’ sizes and pressures.”

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): “A Cardiac MRI gives amazing visualization into the heart muscle. It’s highly detailed and can show evidence of heart inflammation, an old heart attack or other conditions.”

Procedures

ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator): A special pacemaker implanted in patients at high risk of developing lethal arrhythmias. “The ICD detects and then corrects arrhythmias by delivering a life-saving shock.”

ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation): “A pumping device that helps people who are in advanced cardiogenic shock. It oxygenates the blood outside of the body and can be a life-saving temporary means of stabilizing the patient in an intensive care unit.”

LVAD (Left Ventricular Assistive Device): “An implanted machine that assists with the function of the left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. The device is implanted when the heart is too weak to work on its own and can allow the patient to leave the hospital.”

TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement): A minimally invasive procedure to replace a stenotic (small) aortic valve. “TAVR is especially effective for older patients. They can be out of the hospital in 2-7 days with no incisions.”

These services, as well as many other leading-edge cardiac care treatments and procedures, are offered through the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute, with convenient locations across the Hudson Valley.

Visit us at Westchester Medical Center, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, to learn more. Advancing Care. Here.