The term ‘cardiovascular disease’ covers a variety of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Here’s a glossary of some commonly used terms:

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) includes unstable angina (where a person with coronary heart disease experiences chest pain unpredictably, sometimes at rest) and heart attack (myocardial infarction)

Angina or angina pectoris is the name given to the chest pain experienced by people who have coronary heart disease. In stable angina pain is triggered by exertion and usually goes away with rest.

Arteriosclerosis is a condition where the arteries have lost their elasticity and have become stiff.

Atheroma is the name given to the fatty plaques which can build up in the coronary arteries.

Atherosclerosis is the name given to a condition where there are fatty plaques present as well as a stiffening of the arteries.

Coronary heart disease (ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease) is a condition where the coronary arteries (the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle itself) are narrowed due to the build up of fatty plaques (atheroma). When the heart muscle needs more oxygen, for example when exercising, the narrowed arteries limit the supply of oxygen-rich blood. The person then feels chest tightness or pain, known as angina.

Heart failure is a condition where the heart is no longer an effective pump, and is unable to maintain adequate circulation round the body.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, often has no symptoms, but greatly increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

Ischaemia is a term denoting a lack of oxygen reaching cells (for example in the heart muscle) because blood supply is impaired.

Myocardial infarction or heart attack happens when a blood clot forms in a coronary artery (a coronary thrombosis) blocking the artery and stopping the blood supply to a part of the heart muscle, resulting in damage to and death of some of the heart muscle cells.

Peripheral arterial disease (peripheral vascular disease) is a condition where the peripheral arteries – usually in the legs – are narrowed. This results in the person getting pain on walking because the leg muscles don’t receive sufficient blood.


Click on the link below to direct you to The Heart Zone which is an NHS inform resource giving you accurate information on heart conditions.