From ancient times, men have been fascinated with the heart – even when they had no idea what it did. So the terms veterinarians and cardiologists use to describe the heart are Latin. Here are some common ones:

Aorta: The largest blood vessel in the body

Ascites: The accumulation of fluid in the abdomen due to sluggish circulation

Arrhythmia: An abnormal heart beat rhythm

Atrium (Atrial): One of the two upper chambers of the heart that lead to or from the lungs

Bradycardia : An abnormally slow heart beat

Cardiac: Having to do with the heart

Cardiac Output: The amount of blood that your pet’s heart pumps through its body every minute.

Cardiomegaly: Enlargement of the heart

Diastolic: The period between heartbeats. Having to do with the time during which the heart ventricles are at rest and pressure in the ventricles and circulation is at its lowest

Edema: Fluid that accumulates due to sluggish circulation or damaged blood vessels

Effusion: Fluid that leaks from the blood vessels

Fibrillation: When all or part of the heart pulses out of control and ineffectively

Heart Block: When the electrical impulses of the heart are not conducted throughout the organ

Hypertrophy: An increase above normal size

Mitral: Having to do with the valve that separates the upper and lower left sides of the heart

Murmur: An abnormal heart sound

Myocardium: The heart muscle

Perfusion: The amount of blood freely flowing through tissues of the body. In heart failure, perfusion is reduced

Pericardium: The protective, lubricating sac that snuggly surrounds the heart

Pleural: Having to do with the chest or thorax

Stroke Volume: The amount of blood (capacity) pumped out of the heart with each individual heartbeat

Systolic: Having to do with the time during which the heart muscle is contracting (beating) when pressure in the ventricles and circulation is at its highest

Tachycardia: An abnormally fast heartbeat

Tricuspid: Having to do with the valve that separates the upper and lower right sides of the heart

Vascular Resistance: How constricted or dilated the artery is as the blood is flowing through it

Venous Return: The blood draining back into the heart after passing through the body

Ventricular fibrillation: When the ventricles contract in an irregular and ineffective way, a condition that quickly leads to death unless corrected. This is a heart attack in people, and needs a defibrillator to correct the problem. People who have serious arrhythmias can sometimes have an artificial pacemaker implanted in their chest or abdomen. This battery-powered device delivers a rhythmic electrical impulse to the heart on either a constant basis, or only when the heart's natural pacemaker, the AV node, temporarily fails to sustain a normal beat