Aneurysm: Dilation of an artery or a part of the heart due to a weakening of the wall
Angina pectoris: Chest pain due to the transient imbalance between oxygen supply to the myocardium and oxygen demand by the myocardium.
Angiocardiography: Visualization of the heart and vessels by injecting a contrast medium through a catheter.
Anoxia, hypoxia: Presence of an insufficient amount of oxygen in blood and tissues.
Anticoagulant agents: Drugs which reduce the blood coagulation.
Aorta: The main artery, which receives blood from the left ventricle.

Aortic valve: Valve sited between the left ventricle and aorta, which enables the blood flow into the aorta and prevents its back flow.
Arrhythmia: Any variation of the normal cardiac rhythm.
Arterial duct: Small duct which gets in communication aorta with pulmonary artery. During the fetal life, it is open and closes immediately after birth.
Arterial hypertension: Rise of blood pressure beyond the normal values.
Arterial switch: See Jatene
Artery: Blood vessel which carries the oxygenated blood from the heart to the various body areas.
Atresia: Complete occlusion of a valve or a blood vessel
Atrium: Heart chamber which receives blood from the veins and sends it to the relevant ventricle. The right atrium receives the venous blood from the various parts of the body; the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs.

Bacterial endocarditis: Inflammation of the innermost layer of the heart due to bacterial infections.
Bandage of pulmonary artery: Palliative surgery consisting in creating an artificial obstacle in the pulmonary artery, to limit the arrival of blood to the lungs
Blalock-Taussig (operation of): Palliative surgery consisting in connecting a subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery of the same side, in order to increase the pulmonary blood flow.
Bradycardia: Slow heart rhythm.

: The smallest blood vessels, at whose level the oxygen and nutrients exchange occurs from blood to tissues, which release in turn carbon dioxide and wastes.
Cardiac block: Delay or blockade of electric impulses running along the conduction system of the heart.
Cardiac catheterization
: Procedure consisting in introducing a catheter, through a vein or an artery, up to the heart.
Cardiac output: The amount of blood (liters/minute) pumped by the heart in one minute
: Thin flexible tube which is introduced and guided into the vessels and heart chambers.

Chromosomes: Elements of the cells which carry the hereditary characters. The human species has 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father.
Coronary arteries
: Arteries which take oxygenated blood from aorta to the myocardium.
Cyanosis: Bluish color of the skin caused by the lack of oxygen in blood.

Dextrocardia: Position of the heart in the right side of the chest.
Diastole: Phase of the heart cycle characterized by relaxation of the muscles of the ventricles, which are filled with blood from atria.
Digitalis: Drug which increases the contractile strength of the heart.
Diuretic agents: Drugs which stimulate the diuresis (production of urine). Dyspnea: Respiratory difficulty.

Echocardiography: Instrumental examination which, by the use of ultrasounds, enables to view the morphology and function of heart.
Edema: Swelling due to the exceeding amount of fluids in the body tissues.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): Graphic recording of the electric activity of the heart. Epicardium: Outer membrane lining the heart muscle (myocardium).
Endocardium: Thin layer lining the inner surface of the heart.
Extracorporeal circulation: Blood circulation developed from the outside of the body by a mechanical pump. It is useful to perform cardiac surgery.

Fontan (operation of): Connection of the right atrium (or of caval veins), performed in babies with a single ventricle and atresia of tricuspid valve. Foramen ovale: Opening of the interatrial septum of the fetus, which closes few weeks after birth.

Glenn (operation of): connection between superior caval vein and right pulmonary artery.
Gore-tex (shunt of): Palliative surgery of positioning of a duct between a subclavian artery and pulmonary artery of the same side. It serves to increase the pulmonary blood flow.

Heart decompensation
: See heart failure.
Heart failure
: Inability of the heart of maintaining a cardiac output adequate to the body requirement.
: Complex of mechanisms regulating the blood circulation.
Hemoglobin: Pigment contained in the blood red cells to carry oxygen Hepatomegaly: Liver enlargement.
Holter monitoring: 24-h recording of ECG on magnetic tape by a portable equipment.
: Insufficient development of an organ or tissue.
Hypothermia: Lowering of body temperature below the physiological values. It is caused on purpose during cardiac surgery to slow down the metabolic processes

Jatene (operation of): Surgery for anatomic correction of the complete transposition of the large arteries, which takes again the aorta in connection with the left ventricle and the pulmonary artery with the right ventricle.

: Muscular wall of the heart sited between endocardium (inner layer) and epicardium (outer layer).
Myocardiopathy: Myocardial diseases which reduces the contractile strength. Mitral valve: Valve sited between the left atrium and the left ventricle. It enables the blood flow into the ventricle and prevents its back flow in the atrium.
Murmur: Noise produced by blood when it crosses narrowed valves or anomalous communications and which is heard under heart auscultation. Mustard (operation of): Surgery of physiological correction of the complete transposition of the large arteries (the venous back flows are inverted)

Necrosis: Death of a group of cells or of a part of a tissue.
Norwood (operation of): Palliative surgery in the hypoplastic left heart

Pacemaker: Artificial heart stimulator which replaces the natural heart stimulator through the release of electric impulses. The pacemaker is placed in a subcutaneous pouch by a minor surgical intervention. The stimulus produced by the pacemaker is carried to the heart through some threads and electrodes reaching the inside of the heart along the veins.
Palliative surgery: A surgery to improve the function of the heart and blood circulation, but which does not repair the cardiac defect like a corrective surgery.
Palliative-terminal surgery: A palliative surgery which is the single possibility of improving the tolerance to a cardiac disease where no corrective surgery is possible.
Palpitation: Sensation of abnormality of the heart rhythm.
Pericardium: A membrane which covers the heart.
Polycytemia: Increased number of red blood cells.
Pulmonary (artery): Vessel which carries the scarcely oxygenated venous blood from the heart (right ventricle) to the lungs for its re-oxygenation.
Pulmonary edema
: Excess of fluids in the lung.
Pulmonary hypertension: Rise of blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries

Rastelli (operation of): Surgery in children with transposition of the large arteries, interventricular defect and pulmonary stenosis
Ross (operation of): Surgery performed in aortic valvular diseases and consisting in the replacement of aortic valve of the patient with his/her own pulmonary valve. Pulmonary valve is replaced by a prosthesis.

Senning (operation of): See Mustard
Shunt: Anomalous passage of blood between two blood vessels or between two sections of the heart normally not communicating.

Sinus rhythm: The normal heart rhythm regulated by the sinus node
Stenosis: Narrowing of a valve or a vessel which hinders the blood flow. Systole: Phase of the heart cycle characterized by the ventricular contraction, which pumps blood into the aorta and pulmonary artery.

Tachycardia: Increased rate of heart beat.
Tachypnea: Increased rate of respiratory motions.
Tricuspid: Valve sited between the right atrium and the right ventricle, which enables the blood flow into the ventricle and prevents its back flow.
Thrombus: Blood clot which forms in a vessel or in a heart cavity because of a delay of the blood circulation and/or due to the presence of injuries.

Valvular insufficiency: Imperfect closure of a cardiac valve which causes a blood back flow.
Vasodilator: Any drug which induces a relaxation of the walls of the small arteries and facilitates the pump action of the heart.
Vein: Vessel which carries the scarcely oxygenated blood from the various body parts to the heart.
Ventricle: Cardiac chamber which pumps blood. The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood through the arteries; the right ventricle pumps non-oxygenated blood through the pulmonary artery.
Ventricular hypertrophy
: Increased thickness of ventricular wall, which causes an increased strength of contraction.