Medical Terms, Made Simple

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Medical Terms, Made Simple

A1C. A test that measures average blood glucose over a period of up to three months by looking at how much of a red blood cell protein (called hemoglobin) is coated with sugar.

Apo A-I. A protein involved in metabolizing lipids. It is the main protein component in HDL cholesterol. Deficiencies correlate with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Apo B-100. A protein involved in metabolizing lipids. It is the main protein component in LDL cholesterol. A higher level may correlate with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Atherosclerosis. A common disorder that develops when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the arteries, forming plaque. As a result, the vessels narrow leading to decreased blood flow.

Blood pressure. The force created as the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries to get to the rest of the body.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD). Term used to describe conditions that can affect the heart or blood vessels.

Cartilage. A type of tissue that covers the ends of bones at a joint and helps the body to move by allowing bones to glide over each other.

Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body.

Cholesterol ratio. The total cholesterol level divided by the HDL level.

Coenzyme Q10. Also called CoQ10, this fat-soluble vitamin-like substance is crucial to the health of the body’s mitochondria: the power plant within the cell. The body’s CoQ10 stores may be depleted by statin drugs.

Diabetes. A disease in which blood glucose levels are too high.

Diastolic blood pressure. The bottom number in the reading, which signifies the pressure during the rest between heart beats.

Electrolytes. Minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Common electrolytes include calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate.

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test. Measures blood glucose, usually first thing in the morning, after an eight-hour fast.

Flushing. A harmless feeling of heat or discomfort on the face or upper body that usually lasts less than an hour or two.

HDL cholesterol. Often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to the liver, where it’s removed.

Insulin. A hormone made in and released by the pancreas when blood glucose rises after a meal.

LDL cholesterol. Often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because a high level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.

Lipids. A group of fats and fat-like substances stored in the body. They include cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL.

Lipid profile. Also called a lipid panel, it is a test used as part of a cardiac risk assessment. It usually includes total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.

Oral Glucose Tolerance (OGT) test. Also called a two-hour glucose tolerance it checks blood glucose level first after a fast, then again two hours after consumption of a special sugary drink.

Pre-diabetes. Also referred to as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG): when blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Statins. Drugs used to lower cholesterol.

Systolic blood pressure. The top number in the reading which signifies the pressure during the heart’s beat.