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SCVC's guide to the main medical terms

A patient's guide to medical terms

We know medical terminology can be complicated for patients.

Here we briefly explain the most common terms relating to the service we provide, to help you understand.


In cardiology circles, this term refers to medical procedure undertaken by an Electrophysiologist, or EP Cardiologist. It is a procedure used to treat heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).

An innovative wrist-worn device provides accurate and convenient blood pressure monitoring, empowering individuals to manage their cardiovascular health proactively.

Ambulatory ECG (AECG)
A device worn by the patient for 1-14 days that captures the heart ECG in order to diagnose intermitted heart rhythm issues such as slow heart rates, pauses in the pulse or arrhythmia.

Ambulatory BP monitor (ABPM)
A device worn by the patient on their arm or wrist that monitors their blood pressure over a period of time 1-7 days, in order to get an accurate assessment of the patients true blood pressure once outside the health centre.

When the heart beats fast or erratically – sometimes noticeable as a palpitation. 

Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)
A  type of paroxysmal supra-ventricular tachycardia that results due to the presence of a re-entry circuit within or adjacent to the AV node. The diagnosis of AVNRT requires visualisation of an electrocardiogram (ECG).

Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFIB)
A common arrhythmia affecting over 1 in 10 people, over 70 years of age. The top chambers of the heart known as the ‘atria’ do not contract coordinately or in time with the heart beat. The atria quiver at 600 cycles per minute causing the main pumping chamber to be less efficient and more prone to blood clots.  The pulse becomes erratic and in many cases faster than usual.

Atrial Flutter
An arrhythmia affects the top chambers of the heart known as the ‘atria’ which contract at 300 cycles per minute. Between 1 in 2 and 1 in 4 atrial impulses are transmitted to the ventricles, so the hall mark of flutter is a regular but fast pulse rate of  75, 100 or 150 beats per minute.


A slow heart rate or pulse below 40 beats per minute.

Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP)
A peptide released from the heart muscle that can be detected in the blood. The BNP is a useful blood test for investigation of whether breathlessness is caused by a lung issue, as opposed to a heart issue. The levels rise in heart failure and thus can be used as a bench mark of treatment and progression of the condition.


CaRi Heart Score
A measure of coronary inflammation, used for cardiovascular risk assessment.

Cardiovascular Disease
Diseases related to the heart and blood vessels.

A medical specialist who focuses on diagnosing and treating heart-related conditions.

CHD (Coronary Heart Disease)
A common heart condition characterised by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.

A medical specialist who provides expert advice and services.

Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC)
A measure of coronary artery calcification, used to detect coronary heart disease. A type of CT scan.

Coronary Artery
Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function. Also, oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away. The coronary arteries wrap around the outside of the heart. Small branches dive into the heart muscle to bring it blood.

Coronary Artery Disease
A common type of heart disease that involves the narrowing of coronary arteries.

CT Scan
A computed tomography scan is a medical imaging technique used to obtain detailed internal images of the body.

CT Coronary Angiogram (CTCA)
The use of computed tomography angiography to assess the coronary arteries of the heart.



A disorder of either the production of insulin from the pancreas, or reduced sensitivity of the tissues to insulin release (insulin resistance) that both lead to the blood and tissue glucose levels being too high, which causes damage to organs such as brain, heart and kidney and accelerates atherosclerosis.

Health professionals who are experts in nutrition and the human diet.

Delta Wave
A small deflection on the ECG between the P wave and QRS, indicative of an accessory pathway associated with Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardias, such as Wolff Parkinson White syndrome or ‘WPW’.


ECG (Electrocardiogram)
A test that records the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time.

Echo (Echocardiogram)
A medical imaging technique that uses sound waves to create images of the heart. A noninvasive real-time ultrasound technique utilising a combination of grayscale and colour doppler imaging, it provides valuable insights into heart function. Echo evaluates ejection fraction, heart valve structure and function, and blood flow dynamics, serving as the gold standard for assessing structural heart issues.

Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT)
Involves undergoing an electrocardiogram test as well as wearing a blood pressure monitor while walking on a treadmill. The goal is to monitor your heart during times of exercise.


FFR (Fractional Flow Reserve)
Fractional flow reserve is a diagnostic technique used in coronary catheterization. FFR measures pressure differences across a coronary artery stenosis to determine the likelihood that the stenosis impedes oxygen delivery to the heart muscle.

FFR CT (Fractional Flow Reserve CT )
A type of non-invasive procedure which uses HeartFlow Analysis, to provide your Consultant with a 3D model of your coronary arteries as a way to identify any potential blockages.


The main type of sugar in the blood and is the major source of energy for the body’s cells. Glucose comes from the foods we eat or the body can make it from other substances. Glucose is carried to the cells through the bloodstream. Several hormones, including insulin, control glucose levels in the blood.

Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT)
The glucose tolerance test is a medical test in which glucose is given and blood samples taken afterward to determine how quickly it is cleared from the blood.

Glycemic Variability (GV)
Refers to swings in blood glucose levels, also has a broader meaning because it alludes to blood glucose oscillations that occur throughout the day, including hypoglycemic periods and postprandial increases, as well as blood glucose fluctuations that occur at the same time on different days.


A simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. It’s one of the commonly used tests to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes.

A vital organ. It is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of your body. The blood pumped by your heart provides your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function

The process of detecting and identifying diseases or medical conditions in apparently healthy individuals.

A homocysteine test measures the amount of homocysteine in a sample of your blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid. Amino acids are molecules that your body uses to make proteins.

High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) is where the level of sugar in your blood is too high. It mainly affects people with diabetes and can be serious if not treated. 

High blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM):
A genetic heart condition characterised by thickened heart muscle.

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycaemia or a “hypo”, is where the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood drops too low.

Low blood pressure is a reading of less than 90/60mmHg. It does not always cause symptoms, but you may need treatment if it does.


Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets encoded in humans by the insulin gene. It is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body.

Insulin Resistance
When cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells.

Invasive Coronary Angiogram
An invasive diagnostic procedure that provides important information about the structure and function of the heart. It usually involves taking X-rays of the heart’s arteries (coronary arteries) using a technique called coronary angiography or arteriography.

Ischaemic Heart Disease
A condition caused by reduced blood supply to the heart muscle.


The process of justification allows determining whether the medical exposure will take place or not. The goal of justification is to avoid unnecessary radiological procedure, which would result in patient being unnecessary exposed to ionising radiation and its potential risks.


KardiaMobile (by Alivecor)
With the press of a button, capture a medical-grade ECG in 30 seconds and get an instant analysis right on your smartphone.


Left Bundle Branch Block (LBBB)
Occurs when something blocks or disrupts the electrical impulse that causes your heart to beat. This block leads to an abnormal heart rhythm. A diagnosis of left bundle branch block often means that you have an underlying heart condition.


An industry partner with expertise in managing medical practices, delivering health services, and leading people with a firm belief in the power of compassionate care.

Metabolic Health Assessment
Provides a comprehensive assessment of an individual patient’s metabolism including glucose variability as well as traditional measures of inflammation and glucose homeostasis.

Microscopic Coronary Calcification
Tiny deposits of calcium in coronary arteries, which can be a sign of heart disease.

Mixed Morphology Plaque
Arteries containing both calcified and non-calcified plaque.

The rate of death in a population.


A medical doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating kidney conditions.

Nutritional Therapist
Trained to look at health-related symptoms, and determine if these are caused, or made worse by, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. These could include a range of symptoms from dry skin or a rash to fatigue, insomnia, stomach pains and much more.


Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
An optical analog of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) that can be used to examine the coronary arteries and has 10-fold higher resolution than IVUS.


Taking measures to avoid or reduce the risk of developing diseases or medical conditions.

A serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

A novel blood test with the potential to accurately rule out clinically significant prostate cancer, and therefore to reduce the number of unneeded biopsies.

Prostagram Mp MRI
Prostate Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has revolutionised the way in which men with suspected prostate cancer are treated. Now routinely used as a first-line investigation of raised PSA blood test, creating detailed images of the prostate which enables biopsies of suspected cancer to be precisely targeted, enabling more accurate sampling, and an earlier cancer diagnosis.

A blood test to help detect prostate cancer by measuring the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein made only by the prostate gland.

PVI  (Pulmonary Vein Isolation)
Often called ‘AF ablation’ instead, PVI is the technical term for the surgical procedure used to treat atrial fibrillation. Because AF is often initiated by pulmonary vein ectopic beats entering the left atrium, the PVI technique has a large impact on AF.

P wave
The P wave is the first part of the ECG that is seen just before the QRS. It represents atrial contraction, and is absent if atrial fibrillation is present.


A wireless blood pressure monitor that measures your systolic, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and has irregular heartbeat detection.

Q wave
A Q wave is any negative deflection that precedes an R wave. Represents the normal left-to-right depolarisation of the interventricular septum.



Right Bundle Branch Block (RBBB)
An electrocardiogram finding that occurs when the physiologic electrical conduction system of the heart, specifically in the His-Purkinje system, is altered or interrupted resulting in a widened QRS and electrocardiographic vector changes.


Sinus Arrhythmia
A commonly encountered variation of normal sinus rhythm. Sinus arrhythmia characteristically presents with an irregular rate in which the variation in the R-R interval vary by more than 0.12 seconds

Sinus Node (SA)
Represents a cluster of myocytes with pacemaker activity. Under normal circumstances, it generates electrical impulses that set the rhythm and rate of the heart. The mass of the sinus node is too small to create a substantial electrical signal that can be detected on the electrocardiogram (ECG).

A blood test that is used to help predict risk of prostate cancer in people aged 45 to 74 years with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) of at least 1.5 nanograms per ml and no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Stress ECG
A test that measures the heart’s electrical activity during physical stress or exercise. 

Stress Echocardiogram
A test that involving an exercise treadmill test and cardiac ultrasound scan (performed before and after exercise). For the purposes of the test, the use of a contrast agent may be necessary to ensure our cardiologist is able to visualise all the important areas of the heart clearly. The contrast agent will be administered into the vein.

Stress Perfusion MRI 
A medical imaging technique to evaluate blood flow to the heart muscle. No x-rays are used, making it a safe test to have on repeated occasions, if required.

Surrey Research Park (SRP)
Location of SCVC and other medical diagnostic companies.

Supra Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
Location of SCVC and other medical diagnostic companies

A physical or mental indication of a medical condition or disease.


The medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats a minute. Many types of irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias, can cause tachycardia.

A small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland makes two main hormones: thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3). These hormones affect every cell in the body. They support the rate at which the body uses fats and carbohydrates.

TruCheck™ Intelli Early Multi-Cancer Screening blood test checks your blood sample for Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs), and clusters of the cells.


Uroflowmetry measures the flow of urine. It tracks how fast urine flows, how much flows out, and how long it takes.

A doctor who treats problems of the female urinary system and the male genitourinary tract. They diagnose and treat disorders of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and male reproductive organs.

Urine dipstick analysis
A thin, plastic stick with strips of chemicals on it — is placed in the urine. The chemical strips change colour if certain substances are present or if their levels are above typical levels. A dipstick test checks for acidity (pH). The pH level indicates the amount of acid in urine.



VCL Surrey
Description, no para break, regular font, one paragraph.

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)
Description, no para break, regular font, one paragraph.

Ventricular ectopic beats (VEB)
Description, no para break, regular font, one paragraph.



Wolff Parkinson White syndrome or ‘WPW’ is a heart condition from birth, where a small area of heart muscle bridges or connects the atria to the ventricles (termed the accessory pathway). This can lead to intermittent electrical circuits that cause very rapid pulse rates. An accessory pathway can sometimes be capable of conducting the heart rhythms at very high heart rates- which makes them potentially dangerous in the event of the patient going into atrial fibrillation (AF)- since the atrial rate in AF is 600 cycles per min.


A a form of radiation emitted by Tungsten when hit by a stream of electrons. It is used extensively in medical diagnostic imaging as a beam of X radiation passes through a person’s tissues varies according to tissue density and degree of calcification. It has many applications including standard chest X ray used to assess heart size, ribs and lung tissue, and CT where multiple sources and detectors arranged in a doughnut shape can be spun around to acquire multiple slices through the body, which can then be reconstructed by computers to create a 3D model of the body’s organs.


Yeast Infection
An infection caused by a fungus, typically Candida albicans, often affecting the vaginal area or mouth.




A sedative primarily used for the treatment of trouble sleeping.