Health A-Z


Clinical Definition Abdominoplasty is an elective procedure to remove excess fat and abdominal skin while tightening weakened or separated stomach muscles. In Our Own Words An abdominoplasty flattens, firms and slims the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin while tightening muscles in the abdominal wall. It is a major elective surgery that requires general

ACE inhibitors

Clinical Definition ACE Inhibitors are a class of drugs that block the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, used in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure, and in the prevention of microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus. In Our Own Words ACE inhibitors are medications that work by lowering the blood pressure and


Clinical Definition Acetaminophen is a crystalline compound classified as a non-opioid analgesic. It is also used as an antipyretic with a similar potency to aspirin. The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is not clear, but it does appear to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins. In large doses, acetaminophen can lead to acute hepatic toxicity.

Acetylsalicylic acid

Clinical Definition Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical agent. It contains salicylic acid, the active metabolite that inhibits prostaglandins. Acetylsalicylic acid is used as an antipyretic and analgesic. It is also sometimes prescribed as antiplatelet agent in order to reduce the risk of a myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular

ACL Reconstruction

Clinical Definition One type of knee surgery involves reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament, or the ACL. The ACL is a band of connective tissue that provides stability to the knee. ACL injuries are very common, especially in sports that demand quick stops and starts or rapid changes in velocity, and are often treated surgically.

Acute Altitude Sickness

Clinical Definition Acute altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is a group of general symptoms triggered by traveling to a higher elevation, usually above 8,000 feet, too rapidly. The potentially life-threatening illness is due to reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels. In Our Own Words Altitude sickness, also known as mountain sickness, occurs when

Acute coronary syndrome

Clinical Definition Acute coronary syndrome is an umbrella term for a group of coronary artery diseases associated with sudden blockage of the blood supply to the heart muscle. Acute coronary syndrome is a medical emergency. In Our Own Words Acute coronary syndrome is a medical emergency describing a group of conditions, including a possible heart


Clinical Definition Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a developmental and behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While the exact causes have not been determined, research suggests that it has a strong neurobiological basis. Impairment of executive brain functions that activate, organize, integrate and manage relate to symptoms associated with ADHD. The disorder is

AED machine

Clinical Definition An AED machine is a portable medical device that can be used to treat life threatening arrhythmias, including pulseless ventricle tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. The machine is programmed to analyze myocardial rhythms and if indicated, deliver a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the heart. The electrical current depolarizes a critical mass of


Clinical Definition Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, most commonly called AIDS, is a serious infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. The body cannot get rid of HIV. There are treatments but there is still no cure. The virus is transmitted when an infected person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids or


Clinical Definition Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse, is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by excessive intake of alcohol, impaired control over drinking and compulsive drinking, despite known adverse consequences of the behavior. The onset of withdrawal symptoms occurs with cessation of use. Treatment begins with ”detox.” In Our Own Words Alcoholism


Clinical Definition An allergy is an abnormal or hypersensitive immune reaction to an allergen, a substance that is normally harmless, but that triggers an allergic response, including the release of the chemical histamine, which can cause reactions like sneezing or a rash. In Our Own Words If you have an allergy, or are allergic to

Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency

Clinical Definition Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic disorder, which causes insufficient production of the blood protein alpha1-antitrypsin. The protein, which is manufactured in the liver, travels through the bloodstream and protects the lungs from the enzyme neutrophil elastase. The lack of alpha1-antitrypsin allows the enzyme to accumulate and damage the lungs. As a result, conditions


Clinical Definition Amblyopia is visual impairment in which the neural development for one eye is favored over the other. The vision in one eye thus becomes weaker, despite the absence of explanatory ocular abnormalities. Strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, is the most common cause. In Our Own Words Amblyopia, a common cause of vision


Clinical Definition Anemia is a blood disorder that occurs when a person does not have adequate hemoglobin, which transports oxygen through the body, via the blood. Anemia is frequently caused from a lack of iron, which the body uses to make hemoglobin. More serious types of anemia are sickle-cell anemia, which is an inherited disease


Clinical Definition An aneurysm is an abnormal dilation, ballooning or bulging of the wall of an artery. It develops at a site of weakness. While aneurysms are more common in adults than children, they can occur at any age. Small aneurysms generally are not accompanied by symptoms, but those with a larger aneurysm may report


Clinical Definition Angina, or chest pain, is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. Caused by ischemia, angina is often due to a clot forming in a partially blocked coronary artery. Angina can be described as discomfort or heaviness in the chest. Too often, this acute and dangerous symptom is passed off as simple


Clinical Definition Angioedema is a non-pitting edema that affects the dermis and subcutaneous layers, most often involving the tongue, lips, face and throat, but also less commonly the genitalia and viscera. Edema can also affect the airway, a potentially life-threatening event. If angioedema is severe, emergency treatment to ensure an open, functioning airway is needed.

Anorexia nervosa

Clinical Definition Anorexia nervosa is a psychological eating disorder in which a person has an intense fear of gaining weight and limits calories to the point of near starvation to attain a below-normal body weight. In Our Own Words Individuals with anorexia nervosa suffer from a distorted body image, typically coupled with feelings of inadequacy

Anti-retroviral therapy

Clinical Definition Anti-retroviral therapy, or ART, is treatment with drugs that hamper the ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other types of retroviruses to replicate in the body. Combining several ART drugs, known as highly active ART or HAART, can reduce viral particles in the blood. In Our Own Words Anti-retroviral therapy or


Clinical Definition Blood thinners are prescription drug medications that diminish the blood’s ability to form clots. Regular blood monitoring is mandated when taking anticoagulant drugs, which may also reduce risk of stroke and irregular heartbeat. These medications may take 5 to 7 days to become fully active. In Our Own Words Sometimes referred to as


Clinical Definition Antihistamines inhibit the action of histamine, an important chemical in the body.  During seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis, histamines are part of a cascade of events that leads to nasal blockage, discharge, sneezing, itch and postnasal drip. Antihistamines have an antagonistic action at the H1 or H2 receptor sites. The medication may cause


Clinical Definition Antioxidants are naturally occurring agents that prevent cellular oxidation, and may protect the body from molecules that damage cells (called free radicals). Common dietary antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E. In Our Own Words Antioxidants are natural or synthetic substances found in foods that may protect cells from the damaging effects of


Clinical Definition The aorta is the body’s largest artery. The left ventricle (chamber) of the heart pumps blood rich in oxygen through the aortic valve and into the aorta. From there, the aorta distributes blood to the general circulation. In Our Own Words The role of the largest artery of the human body, the aorta,

Aortic Insufficiency

Clinical Definition Aortic insufficiency is a cardiac valve condition in which the aortic valve fails to close properly during ventricular diastole. The leaky valve creates a regurgitant flow of blood back into the left ventricle. Due to the backwards blood flow, left ventricular pressure can increase, possibly leading to hypertrophy of the myocardium. In some


Clinical Definition Appendicitis is a common medical condition that involves inflammation of the appendix, usually due to a bacterial infection. Inflammation is thought to develop when stool, mucus or a parasite fills the interior of the appendix. In instances of acute appendicitis, if surgical intervention is delayed, complications such as peritonitis can develop. In Our


Clinical Definition Any abnormal heart rate or rhythm that affects specific parts of the heart is considered an arrhythmia. Classified according to origin, a ventricular arrhythmia occurs at the lower ventricle chambers of the heart, while supraventricular arrhythmias originate above the ventricles, or the upper (atrial) chambers of the heart. In Our Own Words Any


Clinical Definition Arthritis is acute or chronic inflammation of one or more joints, typically causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and sometimes loss of movement. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis is also a common form of arthritis. In Our Own Words The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation, and is used

Asperger Syndrome

Clinical Definition Asperger syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autistic spectrum. The condition is considered present from infancy. Individuals with Asperger syndrome may vary in clinical presentation. In general, the disorder may cause nonverbal communication difficulties, repetitive behavior, social impairment and problems with sensory input. In Our Own Words Asperger syndrome (AS), also


Clinical Definition Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs characterized by increased airway reactivity in response to certain stimuli. During an asthma exacerbation, constriction of the smooth muscle of the bronchi, increased mucus production and mucosal edema occur, which creates the clinical presentation of respiratory distress. In Our Own Words Asthma is a


Clinical Definition Asymptomatic is a medical term used to describe an individual who is a carrier of an infection or a disease, but is clinically silent or not experiencing symptoms. Asymptomatic conditions may cause a delay in the diagnosis of said infection or disease. Being asymptomatic does not indicate the seriousness of a condition. In


Clinical Definition Atelectasis is a partial lung collapse, or, less commonly, collapse of the entire lung. The cause is blockage of the bronchus or bronchioles or pressure outside the lung. Hospitalized patients and post-op patients are vulnerable. Symptoms include respiratory difficulty, cough, chest pain and low-grade fever. Treatments are aimed at relieving the blockage. In


Clinical Definition Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of plaque in the arterial walls, causing stenosis and sometimes leading to ischemia, with chest pain and myocardial infarctions, cerebral infarcts and vascular dementia. The origin is probably endothelial injury, with contributions from hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hyperhomocysteinemia, inflammation, obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Treatments include medication, lifestyle changes, surgery and other

Athlete’s Foot

Clinical Definition Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a contagious infection caused by a fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments. Symptoms include erythema, vesicles and burning. Diagnosis is by clinical exam, biopsy or examination of the skin culture. Treatment includes self-care with over-the-counter antifungal products, good hygiene or prescribing of antifungal medications. In Our


Clinical Definition Autism is the most common condition in a complex collection of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASP). Those afflicted with this sometimes disabling and lifelong condition exhibit social, verbal and behavioral challenges. In Our Own Words Autism is a collection of behavioral disorders that affects individuals differently, depending on severity

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