a (barred): Abbreviation  meaning before.

a: a prefix that means not or without.

abdomen: area below diaphragm containing stomach, liver, and bowel etc.

abdominal: Pertaining to the abdomen.

abduct: To draw away from.

abduction: Move away from.

abnormality: Being abnormal or malformed.

abortion: The premature expulsion of the embryo or fetus.

    spontaneous abortion: a miscarriage.

    criminal abortion: An illegal abortion.

    Incomplete abortion: Some products of conception remain in utero.

    inevitable abortion: No possibility pregnancy will go term.

    missed abortion: Fetus died at less than 20 weeks and is retained in the uterus.

    therapeutic abortion: Abortion induced in medical setting.

    threatened abortion: Pregnancy may abort, or go full term.

abrasion: Scraping off of some of the epidermis.

abruptio placenta: Premature separation of placenta from uterine wall, with massive hemorrhage, usually during the third trimester. A small degree of abruption without bleeding occurs in most pregnancies.

abscess: A collection of pus, usually in a sac.

absolute refractory period: Phase of cardiac repolarization, wherein the heart muscle cannot be stimulated to depolarize. There are two main periods: atrial and ventricular.

absorption: Passage of a substance thru a membrane into blood.

AC: Abbreviation for alternating current.

ac: Abbreviation meaning "before meals."

acetabulum: Boney pelvic cavity in which head of femur rotates.

acetone breath: Sweet breath odor found in starvation or diabetic ketoacidosis.

acetylcholine: Chemical mediator of the parasympathetic nervous system. abbreviated ACH

acid: A solution with a pH less than 7.0, a solution with more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions.

acidosis: Acid-base imbalance of the body characterized by a pH less than 7.35.

acquired immunodeficency syndrome (AIDS): A blood bourne viral illness (HIV) characterized by severe impairment of the body's immune defense system.

activated charcoal: A substance used to absorb ingested poisons. Does not work with oils, metals (iron, lithium, lead, copper, mercury) or alcohols (ethyl, methyl, isopropal).

acute: Having rapid onset, severe symptoms, and usually, short duration.

acute abdomen: Irritation of the peritoneal lining. Often a surgical emergency.

acute myocardial infarction (AMI): Death (necrosis) of myocardial tissue caused by coronary artery occlusion.

acute respiratory insufficiency: Any condition in which breathing is inadequate to supply oxygen to or remove carbon dioxide from body tissues. Lab: PaO2 < 80 tor. and or PaCO2 > 50 tor.

addiction: compulsive, physical dependence fo subtance.

adduction: Movement toward the median line of the body.

ad lib: An abbreviation meaning "as desired".

Adrenalin: A trade name for epinephrine. A medication used in cardiac arrest, allergic reactions, and occasionally for asthma in the young.

adrenal gland: Small pair of glands situated on the kidneys. They produce steroid hormones such as aldosterone, androgens, glucocorticoids, progestins, estrogens. They also produce catecholamines such as epinephrine, and norepinephrine.

adrenergic: Referring to the sympathetic nervous system. It derives from the word Adrenalin (by the kidney).

adsorption: Adherence of a substance onto the surface of another.

afebrile: Without fever.

afterbirth: Placenta.

agglutination: Clumping together of red blood cells. Usually due to antibodies cross-linking RBCs together. See hemolytic reaction. (it is not clotting!)

agonal: Pertaining to the period of dying. Generally slow and inadequate breaths or heart beats.

agonist: To activate or stimulate. To bind and activate a receptor site.

air embolism: An air or gas bubble introduced into the blood circulation. If large (>250cc) can kill an adult.

air hunger: Another term for dyspnea, esp. more severe.

alcoholic: Pertaining to or containing alcohol; one addicted to alcohol.

alimentary tract: The digestive tract as a whole.

alkaline: In chemistry having a pH greater than 7.0; in human physiology, having a pH greater than 7.45.

alkalosis: An abnormal condition of acid-base balance where the body is too alkaine.

allergen: Substance that produces allergic responses in patients.

allergy: Susceptibility to substance that causes adverse symptoms.

alopecia: Baldness.

alpha particle: Positively-charged subatomic particle.

alpha receptor: A site located in the walls of small arteries and veins that, when stimulated by alpha (sympathetic) drugs,causes the vessels to constrict.

alpha stimulator: Drug or hormone that activates alpha receptors, e.g., norepinephrine.

ALS: An abbreviation for advanced life support. It is generally more advanced skills and medications.

alternating current (AC): House and street electrical systems. An electric current sine wave whose direction reverses. Usually 60 times a second in the US.

alveoli: The saccular units at the end of the bronchioles responsible for O2, Nitrogen and CO2 gas exchange with the blood stream..

amenorrhea: Absence of menstruation.

AMI: An abbreviation for acute myocardial infarction.

aminophylline: Drug used to relax smooth muscle in air passages. Class is: Methylxanthine. Is rarely used for asthma today.

amnesia: Loss of memory.

amniotic fluid: Clear watery fluid surrounding the fetus in the uterus.

amniotic sac: Sac that holds the fetus suspended in amniotic fluid. Bag of waters.

amobarbital: A barbiturate sedative hypnotic drug.

amplitude: Height, usually of an ECG wave or complex or any signal.

ampule: A sealed glass container of sterile medication.

amputation: Severing of a part of the body.

analgesic: An agent that relieves pain.

anaphylactic shock: An exaggerated allergic reaction with severe bronchospasm and/or vascular collapse. Death is likely without treatment.

anasarca: Severe, generalized body edema often caused by right heart failure.

anastomosis: Joining together of two tubelike structures, such as intestines or blood vessels so that flow through is maintained.

anatomic: Pertaining to anatomy or the structure of an organism.

anatomy: The study of body structure.

anemia: State where the red blood cells or hemoglobin are deficient.

anesthesia: Loss of sensation abolishment of pain.

aneurysm: A sac or bulge resulting from the weakening of the walls of a blood vessel or ventricle.

angina: Any disease marked by attacks of choking or suffocation.

angina pectoris: Sudden pain in the chest from myocardial ischemia.

    stable angina: Angina pectoris characterized by periodic pain with a predictable pattern.

    unstable angina: (preinfarction angina) Angina pectoris characterized by a changing, unpredictable pattern of pain, which often signals an impending acute myocardial infarction.

Angiocath: A teflon catheter inserted over a needle.

angiogram: Radiographic depiction of blood vessels often using radiopaque dyes.

angioneurotic edema: Allergy caused hives or swelling of various tissues. Usually involves the upper lip.

angle of Louis: Prominence on the sternum that lies opposite the second intercostal space.

anion: A negatively charged ion.

anisocoria: Inequality of the size of the pupils.

anomaly: Any feature that departs significantly from the normal.

anorexia: Lack of appetite or lack of eating.

anoxia: Lack of oxygen in the tissues.

antagonism: Opposition between the effects of medications, chemicals, or biological agonists.

antagonist: To block the action. To block a receptor site.

ante-: A prefix meaning "before".

antecubital: Situated in front of the elbow, the crease side on the forearm.

antegrade: Movement or flow in a foreward direction. Movement in a normal direction.

antenatal: Prior to birth.

antepartum: Prior to delivery.

anterior: Situated in front of or in the forward part of.

antiarrhythmic drugs: Drugs given to prevent or terminate cardiac dysrhythmias.

antibiotic: Agent that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria.

antibody: Protein that destroys or inactivates the antigen.

anticoagulant: Substance that prevents the coagulation of blood. Examples are heparin, coumadin, Levonox (LMWH). The public calls these "blood thinners" which is a misnomer as they do not affect blood viscosity.

antidote: Any agent or chemical used to counteract the injurious effects of a drug or a poison.

antigen: Agent that stimulates the formation of specific protective proteins called antibodies.

antihypertensive agents: Drugs used to lower and normalize blood pressure.

antipyretic: A drug that reduces fever.

antiseptic: A preparation that prevents the growth of bacteria.

antiserum: A serum that contains antibodies against a specific disease-producing agent.

anus: The circular ring of muscle at the outlet of the rectum.

anxiety: A feeling of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear.

aorta: Largest artery in the body, originating from the left ventricle.

aortic arch: Portion of the aorta that curves and begins to descend.

apathy: Lack of feeling or interest.

apex of the heart: The caudal end of the ventricles. The bottom most pointy part of the heart.

Apgar score: A method of assessing the newborn. 10 is the best, 0 is very bad.

aphasia: Defect in speaking or comprehending in normal fashion.

    motor aphasia: Loss of speech or some component thereof.

    expressive aphasia: Patient has normal word thought but is unable to form words..

    sensory aphasia: The loss of comprehension.

aphonia: Loss of voice.

apical: Pertaining to or located at the apex of the heart.

apical pulse: Pulse obtained by auscultating or palpating over the apical portion of the heart.

apnea: Absence of breathing, respiratory arrest.

apothecary system: A pre-metric system of weights and liquid measures utilizing pounds, pints, quarts, fluid ounces, fluidrams, minims,ounces, drams, and grains.

appendicitis: Inflammation of the appendix.

appendix: Wormlike structure attached to the cecum, in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Rarely, can be located on the patients left.

aqueous humor: The thin, clear, fluid in the anterior chamber of the eye.

arachnoid: Middle meningeal membrane that is highly vascularized and looks like a web of blood vessels.

arrest: A stoppage, usually referring to pulse or respiration.

arrhythmia: A disturbance in the normal rhythm of the heart.

arterial blood: Oxygenated blood.

arteriole: A smaller artery that carries oxygenated blood.

arteriosclerosis: Pathological condition in which the arterial walls become thickened and inelastic.

artery: Blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart usually under higher pressure thus it has three layers. The tunica adventitia, t. media, t. intima.

arthalgia: Pain in one or more joints.

arthritis: An inflammatory process of the joints.

articulation: A place where two bones meet to form a joint.

artifact: An artificial product; noise or interference in an ECG. Not coming from or produced by the heart.

ascending aorta: Portion of the aorta that rises out of heart.

ascites: Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Often due to liver disfunction.

asepsis: Technique of preventing bacterial contamination of a wound or instrument.

asphyxia: Suffocation; a condition characterized by hypercarbia and hypoxemia.

aspirate: To inhale foreign material into the lungs; to remove by suction.

asthma: A condition characterized by dyspnea, bronchoconstriction, mucus plugs, and wheezing.

asymptomatic: Showing no symptoms.

asystole: Absent ventricular contractions; "straight-line ECG".

ataxia: Inability to coordinate the muscles; staggering gait.

atelectasis: A collapse of the alveolar air spaces of the lungs. Seen in pneumonia, pulmonary edema, and aspiration states.

atherosclerosis: A common type of arteriosclerosis affecting the arteries by plaque build up and hardening.

atlas: The first cervical vertebra.

atria: Two thin walled chambers above the ventricles that power pack the ventricles before V. Systole. They provide 20 % of cardiac output.

atrial arrhythmia: Arrhythmia arising in the atrial tissue.

atrial depolarization: Electric process causing atrial contraction, represented on the ECG by the P wave.

atrial fibrillation: A dysrhythmia characterized by discharge of multiple atrial ectopic foci at 300-500 impulses a minute, and an irregularly irregular ventricular rhythm.

atrial flutter: A dysrhythmia characterized by the rapid discharge of an atrial ectopic focus usually at 300 impulses per minute, with varying degrees of AV blocking.

atrial repolarization: The electric process of resetting depolarized atrial muscle. The wave is called the "P's T wave" and is inverted and hidden in the QRS complex.

atrial systole: Atrial contraction precedeing ventricular contraction.

atrioventricular block (AV block): Condition where passage of impulses from the atrium through the AV junction is hindered or prevented altogether.

atrioventricular dissociation: (AV dissociation) Condition where atria and ventricles contract independently. May be caused by complete heart block or interference dissociation.

atrioventricular junction: (AV junction) Portion of electric conduction system of the heart located in the top most interventricular septum that contains the Bundle of His. This region has many backup pacemakers in the event of SA failure.

atrioventricular node (AV node): Structure located in the floor of the R. atria, that slows conduction through the AV junction.

atrium: Single form for atria. A thin-walled, upper chamber of the heart. Usually refered as right or left atrium.

atrophy: A wasting away of tissue.

atropine: A parasympathetic blocking agent, increases heart rate. Can act as an antidote for certain nerve agents.

auditory nerve: The eighth cranial nerve, which mediates hearing and body balance.

aura: A sensation of impending illness. Term used in connection with epileptic attack.

auricle: An old term formerly used for atrium.

auscultation: The technique of listening for and interpreting sounds that occur within the body, usually with a stethoscope.

automaticity: The spontaneous initiation of depolarizing electric impulses by pacemaker sites within the electric conduction system of the heart.

autonomic nervous system: Nervous system that controls involuntary body functions. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

autotransfusion: Redirecting the patient's own blood from one part of the body to another.

AV: An abbreviation for atrioventricular.

avulsion: Injury that leaves a piece of tissue either partially or completely torn away from the body.

axilla: Armpit area.

Axis: Second cervical vertebra. Often fractures during hanging by rope.

Babinski reflex: A reflex response of the big toe seen in patients with injury to the brain. When the sole of the foot is stroked with a semi-sharp object, the big toe turns upward, instead of in the normal downward direction.

ball-and-socket joint: A type of joint found in the hip and shoulder.

bandage: A material used to hold a dressing in place.

barbiturate: A class of drugs that produce a calming, sedative effect. This class does not relieve pain and can sometimes magnify existing pain.

base: A compound that dissociates to form more hydroxyl ions (OH-) than hydrogen ions (H+); a solution having a pH greater than 7.0

basic life support: The ABC's without adjunctive equipment.

Battle's sign: A bluish discoloration over the tip of the mastoid bone behind the ear, signifying basilar skull fracture.

Benadryl: A trade name for diphenhydramine, a histamine blocker drug.

bends: Cramps in the abdomen and limbs caused by bubbles of nitrogen gas in the blood, associated with rapid ascent from deep water.

benign: Not harmful; noncancerous; nonmalignant; not dangerous.

Benzedrine: A trade name for preparations of amphetamine.

beta particle: Negatively-charged subatomic particle, with slightly greater penetrating ability than an alpha particle.

beta receptor: A nerve center located in the myocardium, blood vessels, or bronchi that, when stimulated, causes an increase in cardiac rate and contractile force, vasodilation, and bronchodilation.

beta stimulator: Any agent that activates the beta receptors of the body, e.g., isoproterenol.

bevel: The slanting edge of the point of a hollow needle.

bicarbonate: Any salt having two equivalents of carbonic acid to one of any basic substance; often used as an abbreviated name for sodium bicarbonate.

biceps: The large muscle of the front part of the upper arm, which bends the forearm at the elbow.

BID: An abbreviation meaning "twice a day."

bifurcation: Division into two branches.

bigeminy: A dysrhythmia in which every other beat is a premature contraction.

bile: A Greenish/yellow fluid secreted by the liver, concentrated and stored in the gallbladder, and discharged into the intestine, where it aids in the digestion of fats. It is very alkaline and helps neutralize the low pH of the stomach acid.

biologic death: See death.

biopsy: The removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic and chemical examination.

biotelemetry: Transmission of physiologic data, e.g., an ECG, from the patient to a distant point of reception.

bivalent: Having two charges, e.g., Ca++ (calcium ion)

bladder: An organ of the urinary system, located in the pelvis just behind the pubic bone, that stores urine produced by the kidneys.

blind panic: The type of reaction seen in situations of mass casualties in which an individual's judgment is severely impaired. Can rarely cause sudden bilateral blindness that is always temporary.

blocker: A drug that counteracts or inhibits the action of another drug or agent. For example, atropine is a parasympathetic blocker.

blood pressure (BP): The pressure exerted by the pulsatile flow of blood against the arterial walls. Systolic BP is the surge peak pressure. Diastolic is the continous minimum pressure.

   diastolic blood pressure: Blood pressure measured during the ventricular relaxation (diastole).

   systolic blood pressure: Blood pressure measured during ventricular contraction (systole).

blood type: One of the several groups into which human blood is divided according to its antigens. The most basic example is the ABO and Rh groups.

blood volume: The total amount of blood in the heart and blood vessels, representing about 8 to 9 percent of the body weight.

bloody show: Mucus and blood passed from the vagina when labor begins.

BLS: An abbreviation for basic life support. It can mean lay public mouth-to-mouth and CPR or the basic care given by an EMT.

bolus: A single, large loading dose of a drug that provides an initially higher therapeutic blood level.

BP: An abbreviation for blood pressure.

bradycardia: A slow heart rate, less than 60 per minute.

brain: The organ located in the skull that controls all body functions and is the seat of consciousness.

breech birth: A delivery in which the presenting part is the buttocks or foot.

bronchiole: Small subdivision of a bronchus, or airway.

bronchiolitis: A condition seen in children under 2 years old, characterized by dyspnea and wheezing.

bronchitis: Inflammation of the bronchi.

bronchoconstriction: Narrowing of the bronchial tubes.

bronchodilation: Widening of the bronchial tubes.

bronchodilator: An agent that causes dilation of the bronchi.

bronchospasm: Severe constriction of the bronchial tree.

bronchus: One of the main branches of the trachea carrying air into various parts of the lung.

bruise: An injury that does not break the skin but causes rupture of small, underlying blood vessels with resulting tissue discoloration; a contusion.

buccal: (buc-kle') Pertaining to the cheek.

buffer: A substance in a fluid that tends to minimize changes in pH that would otherwise result from the addition of acid or base to the fluid.

bundle branch block: A disturbance in electric conduction through the right or left bundle branch resulting in wide QRSs (>.11 sec).

bundle branches: The portion of the electric conduction system in the ventricles that conducts the depolarizing impulse from the bundle of His to the Purkinje network of the myocardium. They are subdivided into a right bundle branch and a left bundle branch. The left is further divided into septal fascicle, Left Posterior Fascicle, Left Anterior Fascicle.

bundle of His: The portion of the electric conduction system in the interventricular septum that conducts the depolarizing impulse from the atrioventricular junction to the right and left bundle branches.

burn: An injury caused by extremes of temperature, electric current, or certain chemicals.

    first degree burn: A burn affecting only the outer skin layers.

    second degree burn: A burn penetrating beneath the superficial skin layers, producing edema and blistering.

    third degree burn: A full-thickness burn, involving all layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well, having a charred or white, leathery appearance.

cachexia: Severe malnutrition and poor health as a result of disease or lack of nourishment.

cafe coronary: Choking incident, so named because its suddenness may lead observers to mistake it for a heart attack.

calcium: A bivalent cation required for proper functioning of heart muscle and normal bone metabolism.

cancer: A growth in any tissue that has the power to invade other tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

cannula: A tube for insertion into a blood vessel or organ system.

capillary: An extremely narrow blood vessel, composed of a single layer of cells through which oxygen and nutritive material pass to the tissues. ;Capillaries form a network between arterioles and venules.

capsule: A cylinder gelatin container enclosing a dose of medication, usually in powdered form.

carbohydrate: An element of food containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, e.g., sugar or starch.

carbon dioxide (CO2): An end product of carbohydrate metabolism, eliminated from the body by respiration.

carbon monoxide (CO): Colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by incomplete combustion of organic materials.

carboxyhemoglobin: Hemoglobin that is combined with carbon monoxide instead of oxygen.

cardiac: Pertaining to the heart; sometimes used to refer to a person who has heart disease.

cardiac arrest: The sudden and unexpected cessation of adequate cardiac output.

cardiac asthma: Left heart failure and pulmonary edema with wheezing respirations.

cardiac cycle: The period from one cardiac contraction to the next. Each cardiac cycle includes ventricular contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole).

cardiac output: The amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute, calculated by multiplying the stroke volume times the heart rate per minute.

cardiac rupture: A life-threatening complication of acute myocardial infarction that can involve the papillary muscle, interventricular septum, or myocardium.

cardiac standstill: Asystole; absence of cardiac contractions.

cardiac tamponade: Inadequate cardiac contraction, failing cardiac output, and shock, caused by the accumulation of fluid or blood in the pericardium.

cardiac work: The energy consumed by the heart in maintaining cardiac output. Cardiac work is increased by increases in heart rate or peripheral vascular resistance.

cardiogenic: Of cardiac origin.

cardiogenic shock: A serious complication of acute myocardial infarction in which ventricular damage is so extensive that the heart is unable to maintain adequate output to vital organs.

cardiopulmonary arrest: Cessation of cardiac and respiratory activity.

cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): Artificial ventilation and external chest compression.

cardiotonic drugs: Drugs that increase the rate and force of myocardial contractions.

cardiovascular: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

cardiovascular collapse: Failure of the heart and blood vessels; shock.

cardioversion: The use of synchronized direct current (DC) electric shock to convert tachyarrhythmias (e.g., atrial flutter) to normal sinus rhythm.

carina: The point at which the trachea bifurcates into the right and left main bronchi.

carotid: One of the main arteries of the neck supplying blood to the head.

carotid sinus: A dilated area in the internal carotid artery, usually found just above the bifurcation of the common carotid artery, containing very sensitive nerve endings that participate in regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. Massage of this area can produce marked slowing of the heart through vagal stimulation.

carotid sinus massage (CSM): The use of pressure over the carotid sinus to convert certain supraventricular tachyarrhythmias, especially paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, to normal sinus rhythm.

carpals: The eight small bones of the wrist.

carpopedal spasm: Contorted position of the hand in which the fingers flex in a claw-like attitude and the thumb curls toward the palm; may be caused by hyperventilation.

cartilage: A tough, elastic substance that covers opposable surfaces of movable joints and also forms parts of the skeleton.

cataract: Opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye or its capsule, causing impaired vision and eventually blindness.

catecholamine: A substance, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, that acts on receptors of the sympathetic nervous system in the heart and small peripheral blood vessels to increase cardiac output and blood pressure.

catheter: A tube used for withdrawing fluid from various structures of the body or for irrigating hollow organs, such as the bladder.

catheter embolism: An accidental loss of a catheter fragment in a vein from shearing of an indwelling intravenous catheter

cation: A positively charged ion, e.g., Na+ (sodium ion).

caudad: Toward the foot end of the body.

cc: An abbreviation for cubic centimeter. ~= ml.

cecum: The first portion of the large intestine into which the small intestine empties. The vermiform appendix is attached to it.

central nervous system (CNS): The brain and spinal cord.

central neurogenic hyperventilation: An abnormal pattern of breathing seen in severe illness and injury involving the brain, characterized by marked tachypnea and hyperpnea.

cephalic: Pertaining to the head.

cerebellum: The portion of the brain, located behind and below the cerebrum, whose general function is coordination of movement.

cerebral: Relating to the brain.

cerebral hemorrhage: Bleeding into the cerebrum. This is one form of stroke or cerebrovascular accident.

cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): The fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.

cerebrovascular accident (CVA): The sudden cessation of circulation to a region of the brain, caused by thrombus, embolism, or hemorrhage. It is sometimes called stroke.

cerebrum: The portion of the brain that controls higher functions, such as memory, perception, thought, and judgment.

cervical: Pertaining to the neck.

cervix: The lower portion, or neck, of the uterus.

cesarean section: The delivery of a baby by an operation in which an opening is made directly into the uterus through an abdominal incision.

chemotherapy: The treatment of a disease by drugs.

Cheyne-Stokes respiration: An abnormal breathing pattern characterized by rhythmic waxing and waning of the depth of respiration, (in a crescendo/decrescendo pattern) with regularly occurring periods of apnea. It is seen in association with central nervous system dysfunction.

CHF: An abbreviation for congestive heart failure.

chief complaint: The problem for which a patient seeks help, stated in a word or short phrase.

chin lift: Technique of opening the airway by supporting the chin in a forward position.

chloride: A monovalent anion important in cellular function.

cholesterol: A chemical found in various foods (e.g., animal tissue, certain oils and fats) that, when ingested in excess, is believed to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

cholinergic: Referring to the parasympathetic nervous system. It is derived from the word acetycholine.

chordae tendineae: The fibers that attach to the free edges of the three leaflets, or cusps, of the AV valves and to the papillary muscles. The chordae are fibrous strands, shaped and arranged like ropes on a parachute.

chronic: Of long duration, generally less severe.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A term comprising chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and sometimes asthma, illnesses that cause obstructive problems in the lower airways.

chronotropic: Affecting the time or rate, applied especially to nerves whose stimulation or to agents whose administration affects the rate of contraction of the heart.

circle of willis: Arterial loop under brain that is responsible for autoregulation and constant perfusion of cerebral arteries.

circulatory: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

cirrhosis: Chronic progressive fibrosis of the liver, often associated with heavy alcohol ingestion.

clavicle: The collar bone, attached at right angles to the uppermost part of the sternum.

clonic: Characterized by rapid contraction and relaxation of a muscle or group of muscles.

clot: A lump or solid coagulum; a thrombus.

CNS: An abbreviation for central nervous system.

CO2: The chemical symbol for carbon dioxide.

coagulation: The process of changing from a liquid to a thickened or solid state; the formation of a clot.

coccyx: The lowest part of the spine, composed of four small, fused bones. It is also called the tail bone.

colic: Crampy pain associated with obstruction of a hollow organ.

colitis: An inflammation of the colon.

collateral circulation: A mesh of arteries and capillaries that furnish blood to a segment of tissue whose original arterial supply has been obstructed.

colloid: A protein: An intravenous solution containing protein, e.g., albumin.

colon: The large intestine.

colostomy: The establishment of an opening between the colon and the surface of the body for the purpose of providing drainage of the bowel.

coma: A state of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be aroused, even by powerful stimulation.

comatose: Affected with coma.

communicable disease: A disease that is readily transmissible from one person to another.

compensatory pause: The R-R interval between a premature beat and the following normal beat when this interval is longer than the R-R interval between the premature beat and the preceding normal beat. If the pause is fully compensatory, the R-R interval from the premature beat to the next beat, together with the preceding shortened R-R interval, should equal two normal R-R intervals.

complete heart block: Third-degree heart block; complete absence of electric conduction from the atria to the ventricles. The block can occur anywhere in the conduction system, from the AV junction, AV node, or bundle of His to the bundle branches. The ventricles are driven by an ectopic pacemaker below the block, and the atrial and ventricular contractions become dissociated.

compress: A folded cloth or pad used for applying pressure to stop hemorrhage or as a wet dressing.

concussion: A violent jar or shock that temporarily affects brain funcion; The injury that results from a violent jar or shock.

conduction: Transfer of heat to a liquid or solid object.

conductivity: The potential of the electric conduction system of the heart to transmit electric impulses.

congenital: Any condition that exists at or was acquired before birth.

congestive heart failure (CHF): Failure of adequate ventricular function with resulting backup of blood or fluid into the lungs or body tissues.

conjunctiva: The delicate membrane that lines the eyelids and covers exposed surfaces of the eyeball. Normally pink in color,it may be pale in anemia or red in infection (conjunctivitis).

conscious: Capable of responding to sensory stimuli and having subjective experiences.

consent: Agreement by the patient to accept a medical intervention.

constrict: To make smaller or narrower, e.g., constricted pupils.

constricting band: A band used to restrict the venous flow of blood back to the heart. It is usually used in starting Ivs on the extremities.

constriction: Narrowing, as in the term vasoconstriction, which is a narrowing of the internal diameter of the blood vessels.

contagious: Describing a disease that is readily transmissible from one person to another.

contaminated: Infected with bacteria, such as a wound or other surface; may also refer to polluted water, foods, or drugs.

contractility: The ability of a muscle to contract when depolarized by an electric impulse.

contraction: A shortening of a part, such as a muscle.

contraindication: A situation that prohibits the use of a drug.

contralateral: On the opposite side.

contusion: A bruise; an injury that causes a hemorrhage into or beneath the skin but does not break the skin.

convection: Mechanism by which body heat is picked up and carried away by moving air currents.

conversion hysteria: A condition in which a person unconsciously translates an emotional conflict into a physical symptom, such as paralysis.

convulsion: A violent, involuntary contraction or series of contractions of the voluntary muscles; a "fit"; a seizure.

COPD: An abbreviation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

cornea: The transparent structure covering the pupil.

coronary: A term applied to the blood vessels of the heart that supply blood to its walls; also used to refer to an acute myocardial infarction.

coronary artery disease: A pathologic process caused by atherosclerosis that leads to progressive narrowing and eventual obstruction of the coronary arteries.

coronary occlusion: An obstruction in the coronary artery that hinders or prevents the flow of blood to some portion of the heart muscle. The term is used synonymously with heart attack.

corticosteroid: One of several drugs used to counteract inflammation whose structure is similar to that of naturally occurring steroid hormones.

costal: Pertaining to the ribs.

costochondral: Pertaining to a rib and the cartilage by which it is attached to the sternum.

Coumadin: A trade name for preparations of sodium warfarin, an anticoagulant drug.

CPR: An abbreviation for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

craniad: Toward the head end of the body.

cranial: Pertaining to the skull.

cranium: The skull.

cravat: A special type of bandage made from a large, triangular piece of cloth.

crepitus: A grating sound heard and a sensation felt when the fractured ends of a bone rub together.

crib death: Sudden infant death syndrome, of unknown cause.

cricothyroid membrane: The membrane between the cricoid and thyroid cartilages of the larynx.

cricothyrotomy: The puncture of the cricothyroid membrane for the purpose of establishing an emergency airway in cases of upper airway obstruction.

crisis: A critical turning point.

croup: A common disease of childhood characterized by spasm of the larynx and resulting upper airway obstruction.

crowning: The stage of birth when the presenting part of the baby is visible at the vaginal orifice.

crystalloid: An intravenous solution that does not contain protein, e.g., 5% dextrose in water (D5/W), normal saline, Ringer's solution.

CSF: An abbreviation for cerebrospinal fluid.

CSM: An abbreviation for carotid sinus massage.

cumulative action: Action of increased intensity evidenced after several doses of a drug.

cutaneous: pertaining to the skin.

cutdown: Surgical exposure of a vein to insert a cannula for administration of intravenous fluids.

CVA: An abbreviation for cerebrovascular accident.

cyanosis: Blueness of the skin caused by large quantities of reduced hemoglobin in the blood. It is a sign of hypoxemia.

Darvon: A trade name for propoxyphene, a narcotic analgesic.

DC: An abbreviation for direct current.

dead space: The portion of the tidal volume that does not reach the alveoli and thus does not participate in gas exchange.

death, biologic: Irreversible brain damage, usually occurring after 3 to 10 minutes of cardiac arrest.

death, clinical: The moment the pulse and blood pressure are absent. Clinical death occurs immediately after the onset of cardiac arrest.

decerebrate posture: A posture assumed by patients with severe brain dysfunction, characterized by extension and internal rotation of the arms and extension of the legs.

decompensation: The failure of an organ system; most often used to indicate the failure of the heart, as the result of disease, to maintain sufficient circulation of blood to meet the demands of the body.

decorticate posture: A posture assumed by patients with severe brain dysfunction, characterized by extension of the legs and flexion of the arms.

decimal: A unit of 10; a system based on 10s.

decubitus ulcer: A bedsore; an eroded wound acquired by sustained pressure on a single area of skin.

defibrillation: The use of unsynchronized direct current (DC) electric shock to terminate ventricular fibrillation.

defibrillator: A device that delivers direct current (DC) electric shock for the purpose of terminating ventricular fibrillation.

definitive care: The D of the ABC-D sequence in advanced life support. Definitive care includes ECG monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac dysrhythmias, defibrillation, and administration of intravenous fluids and drugs.

deformity: An unusual alteration in the shape of a part or organ.

dehydration: The condition that results from excessive loss of body water.

delirium: A disturbed mental condition, usually resulting from fever, injury, or intoxication.

delirium tremens: (DTs) Potential complication of alcohol withdrawal, characterized by agitation, frightening hallucinations, and sometimes cardiovascular collapse.

delivery: The expulsion or extraction of the child at birth.

delusion: A belief or feeling that has no basis in fact, seen in psychosis.

Demerol: A trade name for meperidine, a narcotic analgesic.

denial: The psychic defense mechanism of dealing with unwanted feelings or information by ignoring them. It is seen, for example, in the patient who dismisses his chest pain as "just a little indigestion".

dependency: The condition of leaning on or requiring support from another.

depolarization: The process of discharging resting cardiac muscle fibers by an electric impulse that causes them to contract.

depolarization wave: The electric movement produced by the progressive depolarization from the atria through the ventricles and recorded on the ECG as the P wave (atrial depolarization) and QRS complex (ventricular depolarization).

depressant: A drug that lessens the activity of the body or any of its organs.

depression: Sadness, dejection, a decrease of functional activity.

dermis: The inner layer of skin, containing hair follicle roots, glands, blood vessels, and nerves.

dextrose: A preparation obtained by hydrolysis of starch, used as an intravenous nutrient.

diabetes mellitus: A systemic disease affecting many organs, including the pancreas, whose failure to secrete insulin causes an inability to metabolize carbohydrate and consequent elevations in blood sugar.

diabetic ketoacidosis: A condition resulting from uncontrolled diabetes, characterized by excessive thirst, hunger, urination, vomiting, and sometimes coma, with the production of ketones in metabolism as well as an excess of organic acids.

diagnosis: Distinguishing one disease from another; the determination of the nature of a disease.

diaphoresis: Profuse perspiration.

diaphragm: A large skeletal muscle that is a major component in the act of respiration and that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

diaphysis: The shaft of a long bone.

diarrhea: An increased frequency of defecation with discharge of watery or loose stools.

diastole: The period of ventricular relaxation during which the ventricles passively fill with blood.

diastolic blood pressure: The blood pressure obtained during ventricular diastole; the lowest arterial pressure between two systolic peaks.

diazepam: A drug used in the treatment of seizures (trade name: Valium).

diffusion: The passage of fluid and chemicals through a membrane.

digitalis: A drug used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and certain atrial dysrhythmias.

digitalization: The process of giving digitalis to the point where the maximum therapeutic effects are achieved without untoward side effects.

digitoxicity: Toxicity from digitalis, which may be manifested by anorexia, nausea, vomiting, yellow vision, or cardiac dysrhythmias.

dilation: The condition of being dilated or stretched beyond normal dimensions.

Dilaudid: A trade name for dihydromorphinone, a narcotic analgesic.

diplopia: Double vision.

direct current (DC): An electric current that flows at a steady rate in a single direction.

direct current (DC) electric shock: An electric shock delivered with a defibrillator to the heart directly or through the chest wall to terminate certain dysrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation, or to convert various tachyarrhythmias.

disc: The cartilaginous material that separates each of the vertebrae.

dislocation: The disruption of the normal anatomy of a joint.

disorganization: A disturbed mental state characterized by incoherence.

disorientation: A disturbed mental state characterized by confusion regarding one's relationship to either physical surroundings, time, or person.

dissecting aneurysm: An aneurysm, or bulge, formed by the separation of the layers of the arterial wall.

distal: Farther from a point of reference. Generally the point of reference is the heart.

distention: The state of being inflated or enlarged, particularly of the abdomen.

diuresis: The secretion of large amounts of urine by the kidney.

diuretic: A drug used to promote elimination of excess extracellular fluid by increasing the renal secretion of urine. Diuretics are often used in the treatment of congestive heart failure.

DOA: Abbreviation for dead on arrival.

doll's eyes: The normal phenomenon in which the eyes move in the direction opposite to that in which the head is turned.

dominant pacemaker: The sinoatrial node. Other pacemakers are normally secondary.

dorsal: Referring to the back or posterior side of the body or an organ.

dressing: A protective covering for a wound, used to stop bleeding and to prevent contamination of the wound.

duodenum: The name given to the first 11 inches of the small intestine.

duplex: A radio system employing more than one frequency.

dura mater: The tough membrane that covers the brain.

duty to act: Legal obligation of public and certain other ambulance services to respond to a call for help in their jurisdiction.

dying heart: A heart that contracts weakly and ineffectively and produces an ECG showing marked broadening of the QRS complexes.

dysarthria: Interference with proper articulation in speech.

dysconjugate gaze: A gaze in which the two eyes are not aligned but instead stare in different directions.

dysfunction: Lack of function; abnormal function.

dysmenorrhea: Pain or cramps during menstruation.

dysphagia: Interference with the act of swallowing; pain or difficulty in swallowing.

dyspnea: The sensation of difficulty in breathing, with resultant rapid, shallow respirations.

dysrhythmia: A disturbance in cardiac rhythm.

eardrum: A flexible structure stretched across the far end of the ear canal, whose vibrations conduct sound to the middle ear.

ECC: An abbreviation for external chest compressions.

ecchymosis: An extravasation of blood under the skin causing a "black-and-blue mark".

ECF: An abbreviation for extracellular fluid.

ECG: An abbreviation for electrocardiogram.

eclampsia: A toxic condition that may occur during pregnancy, characterized by hypertension, edema, proteinuria, and seizures; also called toxemia of pregnancy.

-ectomy: A suffix meaning "surgical removal" (e.g., appendectomy).

ectopic: Located away from normal position, as in ectopic pregnancy or ectopic focus.

ectopic focus: A pacemaker site located in some part of the electric conduction system other than the sinoatrial node.

ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in which the fetus is implanted elsewhere than in the uterus, e.g., in the fallopian tube or in the abdominal cavity.

edema: The condition in which excess fluid accumulates in body tissue, manifested by swelling.

EEG: An abbreviation for electroencephalograph.

EENT: An abbreviation for eye, ear, nose, and throat.

effusion: The leakage of fluid from tissues into a cavity, such as into the pleural cavity.

electric conduction system: The specialized cardiac tissue that initiates and conducts electric impulses. The system includes the SA node, internodal atrial conduction pathways, AV junction, AV node, bundle of His, and the Purkinje network.

electric instability: The condition in which there are ectopic foci in the ventricles capable of producing life-threatening dysrhythmias.

electrocardiogram (ECG): A graphic display of the electric activity produced by depolarization and repolarization of the atria and ventricles.

electrocardiograph: An instrument that records electric currents produced by the heart.

electrode: A probe used to sense electric activity.

electroencephalogram: A graph of brain waves.

electrolyte: A substance whose molecules dissociate into charged components (ions) when placed in water.

electrolyte imbalance: Abnormal concentrations of serum electrolytes caused by excessive intake or loss.

electromechanical dissociation: The condition in which ECG complexes are present without effective cardiac contractions.

elixir: A syrup with alcohol and flavoring added, e.g., terpin hydrate elixir, a cough medication.

emaciation: Excessive leanness, a wasted condition of the body.

embolism: A mass (embolus, sing.; emboli, pl.) of solid, liquid, or gaseous material that is carried in the circulation and may lead to occlusion of blood vessels, with resultant infarction and necrosis of tissue supplied by those vessels.

embryo: The human fetus during the first 8 weeks after conception.

emesis: Vomiting.

emetic: A medication that produces vomiting, e.g., syrup of ipecac.

emphysema: Infiltration of any tissue by air or gas; a chronic pulmonary disease caused by distention of the alveoli and destructive changes in the lung parenchyma.

emulsion: A preparation of one liquid(usually an oil) distributed in small globules in another liquid (usually water) used as a lubricant.

encephalitis: inflammation of the brain.

endocardium: The thin membrane lining the inside of the heart.

endothelium: The thin, inner lining of blood vessels.

endotracheal: Within or through the trachea.

endotracheal intubation: The insertion of a tube into the trachea through the mouth or nose to establish a patent airway.

enteritis: Inflammation of the small intestine.

envenomation: Process by which a venom is injected into a wound.

enzyme: A protein that acts as an organic catalyst. When myocardial tissue is damaged, enzymes from this tissue are released into the circulation, and measurement of the blood levels of these enzymes provides evidence for acute myocardial infarction.

EOA: An abbreviation for esophageal obturator airway.

epicardium: The thin membrane lining the outside of the heart.

epidemic: Occurrence of a disease in many people, over a large area.

epidermis: The outermost layer of the skin.

epidural: Outside or above the dura mater, the heavy sheath that covers the brain.

epigastrium: The upper middle region of the abdomen, within the sternal angle.

epiglottis: A thin structure, located behind the root of the tongue, that shields that entrance of the larynx during swallowing, thus preventing the aspiration of food into the trachea.

epiglottitis: A common illness of childhood, characterized by swelling of the epiglottis, high fever, and pain on swallowing. Complete airway obstruction may result with alarming rapidity.

epilepsy: A disease characterized by seizures.

epinephrine: Hormone and drug that has powerful alpha and beta stimulating properties, used in the treatment of asthma, anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest (trade name: Adrenalin).

epiphysis: The end of a long bone.

epistaxis: Nosebleed.

epithelium: The layer of cells covering the surface of body cavities.

ER: Abbreviation for emergency room.

erythrocyte: A red blood cell. The erythrocyte is the cellular element of blood that carries oxygen.

esophageal obturator airway (EOA): A device used to prevent regurgitation and provide an adequate airway by blocking off the esophageal opening with a cuffed obturator and providing ventilation through a series of sideholes in the obturator tube.

esophagus: The portion of the digestive tract that lies between the pharynx and the stomach.

estrogen: One of the classes of female sex hormones. Males have smaller amounts.

ETA: Abbreviation for estimated time of arrival.

ethanol: Ethyl alcohol; the type of alcohol consumed in alcoholic beverages.

etiology: The study of the cause; The causative agent of a disease.

eustachian tube: The tube leading from the back of the throat to the middle ear,whose purpose is to equalize pressure in the middle ear.

evert: To turn a part, such as the foot, outward.

eviscerate: To remove the intestines; to disembowel.

exacerbation: A flare-up or worsening of a preexisting disease condition.

excitability: The ability of the heart to initiate, conduct, and be stimulated by electric impulses.

excitation impulse: An electric impulse that arises automatically in the electric conduction system and causes depolarization of the heart muscles.

exhalation: The act of breathing out; expiration.

expectorant: A drug that loosens the mucus secretions of the bronchial tree and facilitates their removal.

expiration: The action of breathing out; exhalation.

exsanguinate: To bleed to death.

extension: The movement that brings two members of a limb into or toward a straight condition.

external chest compressions: Mechanical depression of the lower half of the sternum with the aim of compressing the ventricles and increasing intrathoracic pressure, thereby squeezing blood into the systemic circulation and pulmonary circulation.

extracellular fluid (ECF): The portion of the total body water outside the cells, comprising the interstitial fluid and plasma.

extract: A concentrated preparation of a drug prepared by putting the drug into solution in alcohol or water and evaporating off the excess solvent to a prescribed standard.

extraocular motions: The movements of the eyes.

extrasystole: An extra heart beat, often a premature contraction.

extravasation: Leakage of intravenous fluid into surrounding tissues, often caused by penetration of the opposite wall of the vein used for venipuncture.

extremity: A limb; an arm or a leg.

extrication: Freeing an entrapped victim.

extruded: Being pushed out of normal position.

exudate: An abnormal accumulation of fluid in body tissue or cavities.

facies: The expression or appearance of the face, which may be characteristic of various disease conditions.

fainting: A momentary loss of consciousness caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain; syncope.

fallopian tube: A tube extending from an ovary to the uterus.

fasciculations: Rippling movements in individual muscle bundles.

FCC: An abbreviation for Federal Communications Commission.

febrile: Characterized by fever.

feces: Bowel movement; the stool.

femoral: Pertaining to the femur or the thigh.

femoral artery: The main artery supplying the thigh and leg.

femur: The bone that extends from the pelvis to the knee. It is the longest and largest bone of the body.

fetus: The unborn human after the second month of pregnancy.

fibrillation: Disorganized, uncoordinated movements of the heart muscle, resulting in quivering and ineffectual contractions of the atria or ventricles.

fibrillatory waves (f waves): On the ECG, these waves appear as frequent, irregular waves caused by rapid, disorganized firing of multiple ectopic foci in the atria or ventricles.

fibrosis: The formation of fibrous tissue in the place of necrotic muscle.

fibula: The smaller of the two bones of the lower leg.

flaccid: Soft; limp; without muscle tone.

flail chest: The condition in which several ribs are broken, each in at least two places, or in which there is sternal fracture or separation of the ribs from the sternum, producing a free or floating segment of the chest wall that moves paradoxically on respiration.

flexion: The act of bending.

fluidextract: A concentrated form of a drug prepared by dissolving the crude drug in the fluid in which it is most readily soluble. Fluidextracts are standardized so that 1 ml contains 1 gm of the drug.

flutter: Repetitive, regular, and rapid beating of the atrial muscle.

flutter waves (F waves): Coarse, sawtooth waves on the ECG characteristic of atrial flutter.

FM: An abbreviation for frequency modulation.

fontanelles: The openings between the bones of the skull in very young children. As the child grows older, the bones of the skull fuse, and the fontanelles close.

foramen: Any natural opening through a bone or other structure of the body.

forearm: The part of the upper extremity between the elbow and the wrist.

Fowler's position: Semisitting position.

fracture: A break or rupture in a bone.

    closed fracture: A fracture that does not produce an open wound in the skin; a simple fracture.

    comminuted fracture: A fracture in which the bone is shattered or crushed into several small pieces.

    compound fracture: A fracture in which bone ends pierce the skin; an open fracture.

    greenstick fracture: A type of fracture occurring most frequently in children in which there is an incomplete breakage of the bone.

    impacted fracture: A fracture in which the broken ends of the bone are jammed into each other.

    oblique fracture: An injury in which the fracture line crosses the bone at an oblique angle.

    open fracture: A fracture involving disruption of the skin over the fracture site; a compound fracture.

    simple fracture: A fracture that does not cause disruption of the skin; a closed fracture.

    spiral fracture: An injury in which the fracture line twists around and through the bone.

    transverse fracture: An injury in which the fracture line is straight across the bone at right angles to its long axis.

frequency: The number of cycles per second of a radio channel, inversely related to wave length.

frequency modulation (FM): A method of converting an analog signal (e.g., an ECG) into a tone of varying pitch, which can then be transmitted over radio frequencies.

frequency spectrum: The range of radio frequencies.

frontal: Pertaining to the anterior surface of the body; front.

frontal bone: The large, flat bone that forms the front of the skull.

frontal lobe: The front portion of the brain.

frostbite: The localized damage to tissues resulting from prolonged exposure to extreme cold.

furosemide: A potent diuretic drug used in the treatment of congestive heart failure (trade name: Lasix).

fused joint: A joining of bones to form a rigid structure, such as in the skull.

F waves: An abbreviation for flutter waves.

f waves: An abbreviation for fibrillatory waves.

gag reflex: Automatic spasm of the airway in response to irritation of the throat.

gait: The way a person walks.

gallbladder: The sac located just beneath the liver that concentrates and stores bile.

gamma ray: Radioactive emission from the nucleus of an atom, with high penetrating ability.

gangrene: Local tissue death as the result of injury or cutting off of its blood supply.

gastric: Pertaining to the stomach.

gastrointestinal: Pertaining to the stomach and intestines.

gauge: A measurement referring to the diameter of a needle cannula. Sizes range from 12-gauge (very large) to 30-gauge (very small) needles. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the lumen of the needle.

generic name: The name given to a drug by the company that first manufactures it. It is usually a simplified version of the chemical name.

genitalia: The male and female external sex organs.

geriatric: Referring to the elderly.

gestation: Pregnancy.

gland: Any organ or group of cells that produces any type of secretion.

glaucoma: A disease that produces increased pressure within the eyeball and often leads to blindness.

glottis: The opening between the vocal cords.

glucose: A simple sugar. Its dextro- form (dextrose) is commonly used in intravenous solutions.

gm: An abbreviation for gram.

Good Samaritan Act: Statute for providing limited immunity from prosecution to persons responding voluntarily and in good faith to the aid of an injured person outside the hospital.

gram (gm): A unit of weight in the metric system, equivalent to about 0.035 ounces.

grand mal seizure: A generalized motor seizure.

gravid: Pregnant.

groin: The inguinal region; the junction of the abdomen with the thigh.

gtt: An abbreviation meaning "drops".

habituation: A situation in which the effects produced by a drug are necessary to maintain a person's feeling of well-being.

hallucination: A sense perception not founded on objective reality.

hallucinogen: An agent or drug that has the capacity to stimulate hallucinations.

hb (hgb): Abbreviations for hemoglobin.

hct: An abbreviation for hematocrit.

head tilt: Maneuver to open the airway by hyperextending the head.

heart attack: A layman's term for a condition resulting from blockage of a coronary artery with subsequent death of part of the heart muscle; an acute myocardial infarction; a "coronary".

heart block: A condition in which the passage of electric impulses from the atrium through the AV junction is hindered or prevented altogether.

    first-degree heart block: A partial disruption of the conduction of the depolarizing impulse from the atria to the ventricles, causing prolongation of the P-R interval.

    second-degree heart block: A type of incomplete heart block in which a variable percentage of the P waves are not followed by a QRS complex.

    third-degree heart block: Complete heart block; complete absence of conduction of the depolarizing impulse from the atria to the ventricles. An ectopic focus below the block becomes the pacemaker for the ventricles, and atrial and ventricular contractions become dissociated.

heat cramps: Painful muscle cramps resulting from excessive loss of salt and water through sweating.

heat exhaustion: Prostration caused by excessive loss of water and salt through sweating. It is characterized by cold, clammy skin and a weak, rapid pulse.

heat stroke: A life-threatening condition caused by a disturbance in the temperature-regulating mechanism. It is characterized by extreme fever, hot and dry skin, bounding pulse, and delirium or coma.

hematemesis: Vomiting blood.

hematocrit (hct): The percentage of a sample of whole blood occupied by red blood cells.

hematoma: A localized collection of blood in the tissues as a result of injury or a broken blood vessel.

hematuria: Discharge of blood in the urine.

hemiparesis: Weakness on one side of the body.

hemiplegia: Paralysis of the lower half of the body.

hemodialysis: The process of removing certain noxious agents from the blood by diffusion through a semipermeable membrane.

hemoglobin (hb, hgb): The oxygen-carrying pigment of the red blood cells. When it has absorbed oxygen in the lungs, hemoglobin is bright red and is called oxyhemoglobin. After it has given up its oxygen in the tissues, it is purple and is called reduced hemoglobin.

hemolysis: The disintegration of the red blood cells resulting from some adverse factor, such as a transfusion reaction.

hemophilia: An inherited blood disease of males, characterized by inability of the blood to clot.

hemoptysis: Coughing up blood from the lungs.

hemorrhage: Bleeding, particularly if excessive.

hemorrhagic shock: A state of inadequate tissue perfusion caused by blood loss.

hemostasis: Stopping hemorrhage.

hemostat: An instrument that stops hemorrhage by compressing the bleeding vessel; a type of clamp.

hemothorax: Bleeding into the pleural cavity.

heparin: An anticoagulant medication.

hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver.

hepatomegaly: Enlargement of the liver.

hernia: The protrusion of any organ through an opening into a body cavity where it does not belong. The most common is an inguinal hernia in which a loop of intestine descends into the inguinal canal in the groin.

hiatus hernia: The protrusion of the stomach into the mediastinum through an opening in the diaphragm. This can mimic the chest pain of angina pectoris or acute myocardial infarction.

hinge joint: A specialized joint found in the elbow, knee, and fingers.

His-Purkinje system: The portion of the electric conduction system, located in the lower part of the interventricular septum and in the ventricular walls, that conducts the electric impulse from the AV junction to the Purkinje network in the ventricles.

history: Information about the patient's chief complaint, present symptoms, and previous illnesses.

homeostasis: A tendency to constancy or stability in the body's internal environment.

homicide: The taking of another's life; murder.

hormone: A substance secreted by an endocrine gland that has effects on other glands or organs of the body.

hs: An abbreviation meaning "at bedtime".

humerus: The bone of the upper arm.

hydration: A state of water balance in the body.

hydrothorax: Fluid in the pleural cavity.

hygroscopic: Tending to absorb water.

hyoid bone: A U-shaped bone in the throat just above the larynx at the base of the tongue.

hypercarbia: Excessive partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the blood; an arterial PCO2 greater than 45 torr.

hyperemia: Increased blood flow to a region or tissue.

hyperextension: Overextension of a limb or other part of the body.

hyperglycemia: Abnormally increased concentration of sugar in the blood. Usually greater than 180 mg/dl.

hyperkalemia: Excessive amount of potassium in the blood.

hyperpnea: Increased depth of respiration.

hyperpyrexia: Abnormally high fever; hyperthermia.

hyperreflexia: Overactive reflexes.

hyperresonance: Abnormally increased resonance to percussion, as in the chest of an asthmatic.

hypersensitivity: Having the ability to react with characteristic symptoms to contact with certain substances; allergy.

hypertension: High blood pressure, usually referring to a diastolic pressure greater than 90 to 95 mm Hg.

hyperthermia: Abnormally increased body temperature; hyperpyrexia.

hypertonic: Having an osmotic pressure greater than a solution to which it is being compared, usually the intracellular fluid.

hypertrophy: Enlargement of an organ caused by an increase in size of its constituent cells, rather than an increase in the number of cells.

hyperventilation: An increased rate and/or depth of respiration that results in abnormal lowering of the arterial carbon dioxide tension (PCO2).

hyphema: Hemorrhage into the anterior chamber of the eye.

hypocarbia: Abnormally low carbon dioxide tension in the blood; an arterial PCO2 less than 35 torr.

hypoglycemia: Abnormally diminished concentration of sugar in the blood.

hypokalemia: Abnormally low concentration of potassium in the blood.

hypopharynx: The most distal portion of the pharynx, which leads to the larynx and esophagus.

hypotension: Low blood pressure.

hypothermia: Having a body temperature below normal.

hypotonic: Having an osmotic pressure less than a solution to which it is being compared, usually the intracellular fluid.

hypoventilation: Inadequate ventilation, with a resultant rise in the arterial PCO2 to levels above normal (higher than 45 torr).

hypovolemia: Abnormally decreased amount of blood and fluids in the body.

hypoxemia: Inadequate oxygen in the blood; an arterial PO2 less than 60 torr.

I & O: An abbreviation for intake and output; the measurement of a patient's fluid intake and output.

ICF: An abbreviation for intracellular fluid.

icterus: Jaundice, the yellow appearance of the skin and other tissues caused by an accumulation of bile pigments. It is often seen in liver disease.

idiopathic: Of unknown cause.

idiosyncrasy: An abnormal sensitivity to a drug, peculiar to an individual.

idioventricular: Relating to or affecting the ventricle only. An idioventricular rhythm is one that arises in the ventricles.

ileum: The third portion of the small intestine.

ilium: The broad, uppermost portion of the hip bone.

IM: An abbreviation for intramuscular.

immobilization: The holding of a part firmly in place, as by means of splints.

impaled object: An object that has caused a puncture wound and that remains embedded in the wound.

incision: A wound usually made deliberately in connection with surgery; a clean cut, as opposed to a laceration.

incompatibility: In blood typing, the situation in which the donor and recipient blood cannot be mixed without clumping or adverse reactions.

incomplete AV block: First-or second-degree heart block.

incontinence: An inability to prevent the flow of urine or feces.

indication: The circumstances under which a drug is suited for use.

indwelling catheter: A plastic catheter designed for insertion into the lumen of a tube or vessel.

infarction: Death (necrosis) of a localized area of tissue caused by the cutting off of its blood supply.

infection: An invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms.

inferior: In anatomy, situated below, or directed downward; the lower surface of an organ or structure.

inferior vena cava: A major vein that empties venous blood from the lower extremities and abdominal organs into the right atrium.

infiltration: A deposit of fluid into the tissues, often occurring as a result of administering fluid through an IV cannula that has penetrated the opposite wall of the vein.

inflammation: A tissue reaction to chemical or physical injury or infection. The signs are pain, heat, redness, and swelling.

infusion: Administration of fluid into a vein.

ingestion: The taking in of food or other substances through the mouth.

inhalation: Active phase of respiration in which air is drawn into the lungs; inspiration.

innocuous: Not harmful or poisonous.

inoculation: An injection of any biologic substance intended to confer protection against disease.

inotropic: Tending to increase the force of cardiac contractions.

inspection: The first part of the physical examination, involving a careful visual examination of the patient.

inspiration: The breathing of air into the lungs; inhalation.

insufficiency: The condition of being inadequate to normal performance.

insulin: A hormone secreted by the pancreatic islets that promotes utilization of sugar by the body.

insulin shock: Severe hypoglycemia caused by excessive insulin dosage with respect to sugar intake. It may be characterized by bizarre behavior, sweating, tachycardia, or coma.

intercostal: Between the ribs.

intercostal muscles: The muscles between the rigs.

intercostal space: The area between two adjacent ribs, containing intercostal muscles, arteries, veins, and nerves.

intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB): Assisted ventilation under positive pressure to the spontaneously breathing patient.

intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV): Controlled ventilation under positive pressure to the patient who is not breathing spontaneously.

interstitial fluid: The fluid bathing the cells. It is one component of the extracellular fluid.

interventricular septum: The thin, muscular wall dividing the right and left ventricles.

intima: The innermost layer of a blood vessel.

intoxication: The state of being poisoned, a condition caused by excessive use of drugs, including alcohol.

intracardiac injection: An injection of medication, such as epinephrine, directly into a heart chamber through the chest wall.

intracellular fluid (ICF): The portion of the total body water contained within the cells. It is usually about 45 percent of the body weight.

intracranial: Within the skull.

intramuscular (IM) injection: An injection of medication directly into a muscle of a patient.

intravascular fluid: The portion of the total body water contained within the blood vessels; plasma.

intravenous (IV): within or into a vein.

intravenous solution: Sterile water mixed with various concentrations of electrolytes and/or dextrose and prepared in sterile plastic or glass containers.

intubation: The placement of a tube through the glottis into the trachea (endotracheal intubation) or into the esophagus (esophageal obturator airway intubation); may also be used to refer to intubation of the stomach with a nasogastric tube.

involuntary muscles: The muscles that function without voluntary control; smooth muscles (as opposed to skeletal muscles).

ion: An electrically charged molecule, e.g., Na+ or Cl-.

ionizing radiation: Transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles that has the ability to disrupt atoms in its path into their component ions.

ipecac, syrup of: A medication used to induce vomiting.

IPPB: An abbreviation for intermittent positive pressure breathing.

IPPV: An abbreviation for intermittent positive pressure ventilation.

iris: The colored portion of the eye surrounding the pupil.

irritation: An action that produces slight or temporary damage to tissues.

ischemia: Tissue hypoxia from diminished blood flow, caused by narrowing or occlusion of the artery to the tissue.

ischium: The lowermost portion of the hip bone.

islets of Langerhans: Clusters of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

isoelectric line: The baseline of the ECG.

isoproterenol: A beta-stimulator drug (trade name: Isuprel).

isotonic: Having the same osmotic pressure as that of a reference solution, usually the intracellular fluid.

-itis: A suffix meaning "inflammation of".

IV: An abbreviation for intravenous.

jaundice: The presence of excessive bile pigments in the bloodstream, which give the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes a distinct yellow color. It is often associated with liver disease.

jaw thrust: Maneuver to open the airway by pushing forward on the mandibles.

jejunum: The second portion of the small intestine.

joint: The point at which two or more bones articulate or come together.

jugular notch: Top border of the sternum.

jugular veins: Veins that return blood from the head, neck, and face to the superior vena cava.

junctional rhythm: A dysrhythmia arising from ectopic foci in the area of the AV junction. It often shows an absence of the P wave, a short P-R interval, or a P wave appearing after the QRS complex.

K+: The chemical symbol for potassium ion.

keratin: The horny, proteinlike substance in the upper layers of the skin that is also the principle constituent of the hair and nails.

ketoacidosis: The condition arising in diabetics whose insulin dose is insufficient to meet their needs, wherein blood sugar reaches high levels, and fat is metabolized to ketones and acids. It is characterized by excessive thirst, urination, nausea, and vomiting, sometimes coma. It may also occur in conditions other than diabetes.

kg: An abbreviation for kilogram.

kidneys: Paired organs located in the retroperitoneum that filter the blood and produce urine.

kilogram (kg): A unit of measurement in the metric system, equal to 1,000 gm or 2.2 pounds.

KO (KVO): An abbreviation for keep open (keep vein open). It refers to a very slow rate of intravenous infusion designed simply to keep the route patent and prevent the line from clotting.

Kussmaul breathing: Respiratory pattern characteristic of the diabetic in ketoacidosis, with marked hyperpnea and tachypnea.

L: An abbreviation for liter.

labia: Lips; The folds of skin and mucous membrane that comprises the vulva.

labor: Muscular contractions of the uterus designed to expel the fetus from the mother.

laceration: A wound made by a tearing or cutting action on the tissues.

lactate: A salt of lactic acid.

lactated Ringer's solution: A sterile intravenous solution containing sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride ions in concentrations similar to those present in the blood, as well as lactate added as a buffer.

lactation: Secretion of milk.

lactic acid: A metabolic end product of the breakdown of glucose. It tends to accumulate much more quickly when metabolism proceeds in the absence of oxygen.

lactic acidosis: An excess of lactic acid in the blood, causing the blood pH to fall below 7.35.

large intestine: The portion of the intestine between the small intestine and the rectum; the colon.

laryngectomee: A person who has had total or partial surgical removal of the larynx; a "neck breather."

laryngectomy: Surgical removal of the larynx.

laryngoscope: In instrument for directly visualizing the larynx and its related structures. Often used by paramedics to intubate, or extract material during choking.

laryngospasm: Severe constriction of the larynx, often in response to allergy or noxious stimuli.

larynx: The organ of voice production.

lateral: Of or toward the side; away from the midline of the body.

lavage: A washing out of a hollow organ, such as the stomach.

lead: Any one of the records made by the ECG, depending on the direction of current flow.

left atrium: The upper left chamber of the heart, which receives blood from the pulmonary veins.

left heart: The left atrium plus the left ventricle.

left heart failure: The failure of the left ventricle to pump the blood forward effectively causing backup of blood into the pulmonary circulation, extravasation of fluid into the lungs, and consequent pulmonary edema.

left ventricle: The thick-walled, muscular, lower left chamber of the heart, which receives blood from the left atrium and pumps it out through the aorta into the systemic arteries.

lens: The portion of the eye that focuses light rays on the retina.

lesion: A pathologic or traumatic discontinuity of tissue or loss of function of a part.

lethargy: A lack of ambition to do anything, coupled with a feeling of sleepiness.

leukemia: A disease of the blood-forming organs characterized by proliferation of white blood cells and pathologic changes in the bone marrow and other lymphoid tissue.

leukocyte: White blood cell.

lidocaine: A drug used to suppress ventricular ectopic activity(trade name: Xylocaine).

life-threatening dysrhythmias: Dysrhythmias characterized by extreme bradycardia (less than 40 beats per minute)k, extreme tachycardia (greater than about 170 beats per minute), where electric instability is present or the cardiac output is decreased, especially in the context of acute myocardial infarction.

ligament: The tough band of fibrous tissues that connects bones to bones around a joint or supports an organ.

ligate: To tie off, as a bleeding artery.

limb presentation: A delivery in which the presenting part is an arm or a leg.

liniment: A preparation of a drug for external use, usually to relieve some discomfort or protect the skin.

liter (L): A metric volume measurement, equal to 1,000 ml or 1.1 quarts.

litigation: Lawsuit.

liver: The large organ in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen that secretes bile, produces many essential proteins, detoxifies drugs, and performs many other vital functions.

loading dose: An initial, large dose of a drug that provides a blood level necessary to achieve its therapeutic effects.

lotion: A preparation of a drug for external use, usually to relieve some discomfort or protect the skin.

Ludwig's angina: An emergent condition cause by sublingual infection/abcess and rapid marked swelling to the point of airway obstruction.

lumbar: The region of the spine and surrounding trunk between the thorax and the brim of the pelvis.

lumen: The cavity or channel within a tube, such as an IV cannula.

lungs: Paired organs in the thorax that effect ventilation and oxygenation.

lymph: An almost colorless, nutrient fluid that circulates in the lymphatic vessels.

malaise: A generalized feeling of vague bodily discomfort.

malignant: Cancerous; tending to become progressively worse and to result in death.

malleolus: The large, rounded, bony protuberance on either side of the ankle joint.

mandible: The lower jaw bone.

manubrium: The upper portion of the sternum to which the clavicles are attached.

MAP: An abbreviation for mean arterial pressure.

marrow cavity: The central cavity in the shaft of the long bone where yellow marrow is contained.

MAST: An abbreviation for Military Anti-Shock Trousers.

mastoid: A large, spongy bone behind the ear.

maxilla: The upper jaw bone.

mean arterial pressure (MAP): The pressure approximately midway between the systolic and diastolic blood pressures.

mechanism of injury: The way in which an injury occurred and the forces involved in producing the injury.

medial: Toward the midline of the body.

mediastinum: The space within the chest that contains the heart, major blood vessels, vagus nerve, trachea, and esophagus. It is located between the two lungs.

medulla oblongata: The portion of the brain between the cerebellum and spinal cord that contains the centers for control of respiration and heart beat, together with other major control centers.

melanin: The pigment that gives skin its color.

meninges: The three membranes covering the spinal cord and brain; the dura mater (external), arachnoid (middle), and pia mater (internal).

meningitis: Inflammation of the meninges. It may present with fever, stiff neck, and delirium.

menopause: The time of a woman's life when menstruation ceases.

menorrhagia: Excessive flow during a menstrual period.

menses: The discharge that occurs with the monthly menstrual period.

menstruation: The process by which the uterine lining is shed each month by women between the ages of puberty and menopause.

mEq: An abbreviation for milliequivalent.

mesentery: Tissues by which the intestines are connected to the back surface of the abdominal cavity and that contain the blood vessels, lymphatics, and nerves supplying the intestines.

metabolism: The conversion of food into energy and waste products.

metacarpal bones: The five bones that form the palm and back of the hand.

metaraminol: A drug sometimes used in the treatment of shock for its stimulating effect on alpha (sympathetic) receptors, which causes vasoconstriction (trade name: Aramine).

meter: A metric linear measurement, equal to 1,000 mm or 39.37 inches.

methanol: Methyl alcohol; wood alcohol. It is poisonous if ingested, causing extreme metabolic acidosis.

metric system: A system of weights and measures based on decimal units.

mg: An abbreviation for milligram.

MI: An abbreviation for myocardial infarction.

microdrip fluid administration set: A set used to deliver intravenous solution or medication at a very slow rate, thus permitting accurate titration of dosage.

microgram: A metric unit of weight, equal to 0.001 mg.

MICU: Abbreviation for mobile intensive care unit.

midclavicular line: An imaginary vertical line beginning in the middle of the clavicle and running parallel to the sternum slightly inside the nipple.

Military Anti-Shock Trousers (MAST): An inflatable garment applied around the legs and abdomen, occationally used in the treatment of shock.

milk: In pharmacology, an aqueous suspension of insoluble drugs, e.g., milk of magnesia.

milliampere: A unit of current, equal to 0.001 ampere.

milliequivalent (mEq): A unit of measurement for electrolytes based on chemical combining power. It is defined as the weight of a substance present in 1 ml of normal solution.

milligram (mg): A metric weight measurement, equal to 0.001 gm.

milliliter (ml): A metric fluid measurement, equal to 0.001 liter.

millimeter (mm): A metric linear measurement, equal to 0.001 meter.

millimeter of mercury (mm Hg): A metric measurement used in determination of blood pressure; commonly referred to as torr (Torricelli unit) when used to designate gas tensions in the blood.

millivolt (mV): A unit of electric energy, equal to 0.001 volt.

minute volume: The volume of air inhaled or exhaled during 1 minute, calculated by multiplying the tidal volume times the respiratory rate.

miosis: Pupillary constriction.

miscarriage: A layman's term for an abortion, or the premature expulsion of a nonliving fetus from the uterus.

mitral valve: The valve located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.

ml: An abbreviation for milliliter.

mm: An abbreviation for millimeter.

mm Hg: An abbreviation for millimeter of mercury.

mobile intensive care unit (MICU): Ambulance staffed and equipped to give advanced life support.

monovalent: Having a single charge, e.g.,the sodium ion (Na+).

morbidity: A synonym for illness; generally used to refer to an untoward effect of an illness or injury.

morphine: A narcotic analgesic used to relieve pain and anxiety and to alleviate pulmonary edema.

mortality: Death from a given disease or injury.

motor nerves: Nerves that send messages from the brain to various organs and muscles to stimulate voluntary and involuntary actions.

mouth-to-mouth ventilation: An emergency method of artificial ventilation without adjuncts in which the rescuer exhales through his mouth into the mouth of the victim.

mouth-to-nose ventilation: An emergency method of artificial ventilation used when the mouth-to-mouth technique cannot be performed. In this method, the rescuer exhales through his mouth into the nose of the victim.

mucosa: Any mucous membrane.

mucous membrane: A membrane that lines many organs of the body and contains small, mucus-secreting glands.

mucus: A viscid, slippery secretion that serves as a lubricant and protects various surfaces.

multifocal: Arising from or pertaining to many foci or locations.

multipara: A woman who has had more than two pregnancies; also called "multip".

multiplex: A method by which simultaneous transmission and reception of voice and ECG signals can be achieved over a single radio frequency.

murmur: A sound that may be detected in the heart when one or more of the valves is creating abnormal turbulence in flow..

muscle: The tissue comprising fibers that have the ability to shorten, thus causing bones and joints to move.

muscular tremor artifact: Numerous, extraneous deflections in the ECG caused by muscle movement or shivering.

mV: An abbreviation for millivolt.

myalgia: Pain in the muscles.

myasthenia gravis: A progressive disease of the muscles characterized by slow paralysis of various muscle groups.

mydriasis: Pupillary dilation.

myocardial: Pertaining to the musculature of the heart.

myocardial infarction: The damaging or death of an area of heart muscle resulting from a reduction in the blood supply to that area.

myocardial rupture: The bursting of a necrotic area of cardiac muscle, which may occur several days after the onset of acute myocardial infarction. It results in cardiac tamponade and is rapidly fatal if untreated.

myocardium: Cardiac muscle.

Na+: The chemical symbol for sodium ion.

NaHCO3: The chemical symbol for sodium bicarbonate.

naloxone: A narcotic antagonist drug used in the treatment of narcotic overdose (trade name: Narcan).

narcosis: An unconscious state caused by narcotics or accumulation of carbon dioxide or other toxic substances in the blood. The term usually implies respiratory depression leading to apnea.

narcotic: A drug that relieves pain and produces sleep by its depressant effect on the central nervous system. Technically in medicine it is an opiate, various alkaloids derived from the opium or poppy plant ie. heroin, codeine, morphine, demerol; often used in a general way to refer to any drug that produces sleep. In law inforcement, any controlled or illegal drug.

nasopharynx: The part of the pharynx that is continuous with the nasal passages.

nausea: An unpleasant sensation in the epigastrium and abdomen, often preceding vomiting.

nebulizer: A device that delivers water or liquid medication in the form of a very fine spray.

neck lift: Maneuver to open the airway by lifting upward on the patient's neck.

necrosis: The death of tissue, usually caused by a cessation of its blood supply.

necrotic: Pertaining to dead tissue.

negligence: Failure to exercise the care that circumstances demand; an act of omission or commission that results in injury.

neonate: A newborn.

nervous system: The brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves branching from both.

neurogenic: Originating in the nervous system.

neurogenic shock: Shock caused by massive vasodilation and pooling of blood in the peripheral vessels to the degree that adequate perfusion cannot be maintained.

nitrogen: An element making up about 80 percent of the air we breathe, present in all plant and animal tissues.

nocturia: The necessity to get up at night to urinate.

nodal: Usually, pertaining to the AV node.

noise: Extraneous deflections in the ECG signal. It may be caused by muscle tremor, 60-cycle AC interference, loose electrodes, and weak radio transmission.

norepinephrine: A hormone and drug sometimes used in the treatment of shock. It produces vasoconstriction through its alpha stimulator properties (trade name: Levophed).

normal saline: An intravenous solution containing 0.9% sodium chloride, used when volume replacement is desired.

normal sinus rhythm (NSR): The normal rhythm of the heart, wherein the excitation impulse arises in the SA node, travels through the internodal pathways to the AV junction, thence down the bundle of His, through the bundle branches, and into the Purkinje network without interference.

NPO: An abbreviation meaning "nothing by mouth".

NSR: An abbreviation for normal sinus rhythm.

O: The chemical symbol for oxygen as a singlet. aka the free radical.

O2: The chemical symbol for oxygen gas.

O3: The chemical symbol for ozone gas.

occipital: The region of the back part of the head.

occlusion: Stoppage, as of a blood vessel by a clot.

occlusive dressing: A watertight or airtight covering for a wound.

ocular: Pertaining to the eyes.

OD: An abbreviation with several meanings; overdose, outside diameter, oculus dexter (right eye). The specific meaning is usually clear in context.

odontoid process: A toothlike structure projecting from the second cervical vertebra.

ointment: A semisolid substance used externally, usually containing medication.

oliguria: Minimal urine output. Generally less than 30 ml/hr. A foley is generally needed to measure hourly output.

open pneumothorax: A pneumothorax caused by an opening in the chest wall; a sucking chest wound.

opiate: Technically, various alkaloids derived from the opium or poppy plant ie. heroin, codeine, morphine, demerol; often used in a general way to refer to any drug that produces sleep.

opisthotonos: A convulsive, rigid arching of the back that is seen in tetanus and severe meningitis. Patients will arch backwards on their head and heals in an impressive angle.

optic nerve: The nerve of the eye that transmits visual impulses from the eye to the brain.

orbit: The eye socket.

orifice: The entrance or outlet of any body cavity.

oropharyngeal airway: A ventilatory adjunct placed in the patient's mouth in such a way that the curved, distal part slides behind the base of the tongue, thereby holding the tongue forward, away from the posterior wall of the pharynx.

oropharynx: The area behind the base of the tongue between the soft palate and the upper portion of the epiglottis.

orthopnea: Severe dyspnea experienced when lying down, relieved by sitting up.

orthostatic hypotension: Fall in blood pressure and or rise in pulse rate in assuming an erect position. 20 point change is significant. Ususlly indicates hypovolemia but it can be caused by many other pathologies.

OS: An abbreviation for oculus sinister (left eye).

oscilloscope: A display device with a screen for viewing an ECG or other physiologic data.

osmosis: The passage across a semipermeable membrane of solvent (usually water) from a solution of lower soluble concentration to one of higher concentration.

osmotic pressure: The pressure exerted by a solution of greater solute concentration on water in a solution of lower solute concentration.

-ostomy: A suffix meaning "surgical incision into a structure" (e.g., tracheostomy).

ovary: The female sex organ in which eggs and female hormones are produced.

overhydration: A condition that results from excessive retention of fluids or excessive fluid administration.

ovum: An egg (pl., ova).

oxygen (O2): A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas essential to life, composing 21 percent of the air we breathe.

oxytocin: A drug used to promote uterine contractions (trade name: Pitocin).

p: An abbreviation meaning "after". (post)

PAC: An abbreviation for premature atrial contraction.

pacemaker: Specialized tissue within the heart that initiates excitation impulses; an electronic device used to stimulate cardiac contraction when the electric conduction system of the heart is malfunctioning, especially in complete heart block. An electronic pacemaker consists of a battery-powered pulse generator and a wire that transmits the electric impulse to the ventricles.

pacemaker site: The site in any part of the electric conduction system where excitation impulses arise.

palate: The roof of the mouth.

pallor: Paleness of the skin.

palpation: Feeling a part of a patient's body with the hand to assess the consistency of the parts beneath, in physical diagnosis.

palpitation: A sensation,felt under the left breast, of the heart's "skipping a beat," caused by premature ventricular contraction.

palsy: Paralysis.

pancreas: An intra-abdominal gland that secretes insulin and important digestive enzymes.

papillary muscle: Protrusions of the myocardium into the ventricular cavities to which the chordae tendineae are attached.

para-: A prefix meaning "beside".

paracentesis: The draining of fluid from the peritoneal cavity by means of a needle or catheter inserted through the abdominal wall.

paradoxal respiration: The situation in which attempts to inhale cause collapse of a portion of the chest wall instead of expansion. It is seen in flail chest.

paralysis: Loss of motor function.

paramedic: A highly trained medical professional who can assist physicians to deliver emergency, and now primary care. A health care professional with two years of college training and an associates degree in Paramedic Emergency Medicine. Many states now license these medical professionals.

paranoia: A mental disorder characterized by abnormal suspicions or other delusions (often of persecution or grandeur).

paraplegia: The loss of both motion and sensation in the legs and lower part of the body, most commonly caused by damage to the spinal cord.

parasympathetic nervous system: A subdivision of the autonomic nervous system, involved in control of involuntary, vegetative functions, mediated largely by the vagus nerve through the chemical acetylcholine.

parenchyma: The substance of a gland or solid organ.

parenteral: The administration of a medication or fluid by means other than through the digestive tract, e.g., intravenous, intramuscular.

paresis: Weakness.

paresthesia: An abnormal sensation, often of the pins-and-needles variety, indicating disturbance in nerve function.

parietal lobe: The portion of the brain containing sensory areas and areas of muscle control.

parietal pleura: The membrane lining the inside of the chest wall and the pericardium.

paroxysm: A sudden and intense recurrence of symptoms.

paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND): A severe shortness of breath occurring at night after several hours of recumbency, during which fluid pools in the lungs. The patient is forced to sit up to breathe. It is caused by left heart failure.

parturition: The act of giving birth.

patch: A connection between a telephone line and radio communications system, enabling a caller to get "on the air" by dialing into a special phone.

patella: The small, flat bone that protects the knee joint; the knee cap.

patent: Open, unobstructed.

pathogenic: Capable of causing a disease process.

pathognomonic: A symptom or sign that is sufficiently characteristic of a disease process to make a diagnosis possible on the basis of that finding alone.

pathologic: Indicative of or caused by a morbid condition.

pc: An abbreviation meaning "after meals".

PCO2: The symbol for the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in a gas. A waste gas produced by cellular metabolism.

peak flow: A useful measurement of airway function. The test is performed by having the patient forcefully exhale into a meter. The resulting number (liters per minute) correlates well with airway function. Often the best of three readings is used. Very accurate and useful for asthma patients.

pedal: Pertaining to the foot.

pediatrics: A medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of children.

PEEP: An abbreviation for positive end-expiratory pressure.

pelvic girdle: The large bone that arises in the area of the last nine vertebrae and sweeps around to form a complete ring.

pelvis: The lower bony structure of the trunk.

peptic ulcer: An ulcer produced by acidic gastric juice acting on the wall of the stomach.

percussion: Striking a part of a patient's body with short, sharp blows in order to produce a sound that will indicate the condition of the structures within.

percutaneous: Through the skin.

perfusion: The flow of blood through tissues.

pericardial cavity: A potential space between the two layers of the pericardium, the outer (parietal) pericardium and the inner (visceral) epicardium. Normally this space contains only a small amount of lubricating fluid.

pericardial effusion: Excess fluid within the pericardial sac.

pericardial tamponade: An accumulation of excess fluid or blood in the pericardial sac that interferes with heart action.

pericardium: A double-layered sac containing the heart and the origins of the superior vena cava, inferior vena cava, and pulmonary artery.

perineum: The region between the genitalia and the anus.

periodic breathing: Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

periorbital: The region around the eyes.

periosteum: Dense, fibrous tissue covering bone.

peripheral: Pertaining to an outside surface.

peripheral vascular resistance (PVR): The resistance to blood flow in the systemic circulation depending on the degree of constriction of the network of blood vessels making up the peripheral vascular system.

peripheral vasoconstriction: Dilation of peripheral blood vessels, causing a decrease in blood pressure and warm, flushed skin.

peristalsis: Successive waves of muscular contraction and relaxation proceeding uniformly along a hollow tube, such as the esophagus or intestines, which propel the contents of the tube forward.

peritoneal cavity: Abdominal cavity.

peritoneum: The membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.

peritonitis: Inflammation of the peritoneum.

pertinent negative: Symptom or sign that the patient DOES NOT have but might be expected to have, given the chief complaint.

petit mal seizure: A type of epileptic attack seen in children, characterized by momentary loss of awareness without loss of motor tone.

pH: A measure of the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration, hence the acidity or alkalinity of a fluid.

phalanx: Any bone of a finger or toe.

pharmacology: The science that deals with the study of drugs in all their aspects.

pharyngeal: Pertaining to or situated near the pharynx.

pharynx: The portion of the airway between the nasal cavity and the larynx, consisting of the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx.

phenobarbital: A barbiturate sedative-hypnotic drug.

phenylephrine: A pure alpha (sympathetic) agent (trade name: Neo-Synephrine).

pheochromocytoma: A small tumor usually located near the adrenals or near the organ of Zuckerkandle. This tumor is capable of being triggered by stimulants to release life threatening amounts of norepi and epi. The tumor can be excised if located. Until removed, patients are often placed on alpha and or beta blockers.

phlebitis: Inflammation of the wall of a vein, some times caused by an IV line, manifested by tenderness, redness, and slight edema along part of the length of the vein.

phobia: An abnormal and persistent dread of some specific thing.

physiologic action: An action caused by a drug when given in the concentrations normally present in the body (applies only to drugs that are derived from normal body chemicals, e.g., epinephrine).

physiology: The study of body functions.

pia mater: Innermost layer of the meninges.

piggyback: Adding solution to an infusion set by inserting a needle connected to another infusion set.

pill: A drug shaped into a ball or oval to be swallowed, often coated to disguise an unpleasant taste.

pinna: The outer portion of the ear leading to the ear canal.

pitting edema: Severe edema that renders the tissue boggy and capable of being indented by moderate pressure.

pituitary: The master gland of the body, located in the brain behind the eyes. It influences the secretions of all other glands.

PJC: An abbreviation for premature junctional contraction.

placenta: A vascular organ attached to the uterine wall, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the fetus; also called the afterbirth.

placenta previa: A delivery in which the placenta is the presenting part. It may result in exsanguinating hemorrhage.

plantar: Relating to the sole of the foot.

plasma: The fluid portion of the blood from which the cells have been removed.

platelet: A small, cellular element in the blood that plays an important role in blood clotting.

pleura: The membrane lining the outer surface of the lungs (visceral pleura), the inner surface of the chest wall, and the thoracic surface of the diaphragm (parietal pleura).

pleural cavity: A potential space between the parietal and visceral pleurae.

pleural effusion: An excessive accumulation of fluid in the pleural space.

pleural space: A potential space between the two layers of the pleura.

pleuritic pain: Chest pain that is sharp and made worse by deep inhalation, coughing, or laughing. It is characteristic of pleural inflammation, pneumonia or chest wall pathology. Be very careful as 10% of all AMIs can present with this!

PMI: An abbreviation for point of maximal impulse.

PNC: An abbreviation for premature nodal contraction.

PND: An abbreviation for paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. A classic situation where CHF patients will awaken acutely with shortness of breath ~2 hours after laying down. This is due to shifts of peripheral edema back into the blood stream and then into the lungs.

pneumonia: An infectious disease of the lungs. The infection and pus are located in the small airways and alveloli of the affected area.

pneumothorax: Air in the pleural cavity. While abnormal, does not threaten life unless it becomes a tension pneumothorax.

PO: An abbreviation meaning "by mouth".

PO2: The symbol for the partial pressure of oxygen in a gas.

point of maximal impulse (PMI): The palpable beat of the apex of the heart against the chest wall during ventricular contraction. It is normally palpated in the fifth left intercostal space in the midclavicular line.

poly-: A prefix meaning "many" or "much".

polydipsia: Excessive thirst and/or excessive intake of fluids.

polyphagia: Excessive hunger and eating.

polyuria: Excessive urination.

popliteal: The area or space behind the knee joint.

positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP): The application of slight positive pressure at the end of exhalation for the purpose of preventing small airways from collapsing.

posterior: Situated in back of or on the dorsal surface.

postictal: Referring to the period after the convulsive state of a seizure.

postmortem: After death.

postpartum: After delivery.

potassium (K+): A monovalent cation required for the proper functioning of muscle, particularly the electric conduction system of the heart.

potentiation: Enhancement of the effect of one drug by another.

powder: A drug that has been ground into powder form.

P-QRS-T: The ECG representation of one cycle of depolarization and repolarization of the atria and ventricles.

precordial: Referring to the general area over the heart and left lower thorax.

precordial thump: A sharp blow to the midsternum delivered in an attempt to terminate ventricular tachycardia or stimulate the heart to beat in asystole.

preeclampsia: The condition that precedes eclampsia, or toxemia of pregnancy, characterized by proteinuria, hypertension and edema.

preinfarction angina: Unstable angina.

premature atrial contractions (PACs): Extra atrial contractions followed by ventricular contractions with normal or abnormal QRS complexes, caused by ectopic foci in the interatrial conduction pathways.

premature infant ("preemie"): Infant born before the eighth month of gestation or weighing less than 2 kg (5 1/2 lb).

premature junctional contractions (PJCs): Also called premature nodal contractions; extra ventricular contractions with normal or abnormal QRS complexes caused by ectopic foci in the AV junction.

premature ventricular contractions (PVCs): Extra ventricular contractions caused by ectopic foci in the His-Purkinje system of the ventricles and characterized on the ECG by bizarre, widened QRS complexes.

prenatal: Before birth.

presenting part: The part of the baby that comes out first during delivery.

primipara: A woman in her first pregnancy; also called "primip".

Prinzmetal's angina: Also called variant angina. Angina pectoris caused by coronary artery spasm rather than by a fixed lesion. Patients may have ST segment elevation that occurs with pain and then normalizes (becomes isoelectric) when the pain terminates. While patients can respond to nitro, Ca++ channel blockers like Niphedipine may work better.

P-R interval: The period of time between the beginning of the P wave (atrial depolarization) and the onset of the QRS complex (ventricular depolarization), signifying the time required for atrial depolarization and passage of the excitation impulse through the AV junction.

prn: An abbreviation meaning "as needed".

procainamide: A drug used to suppress ventricular, atrial and junctional dysrhythmias (trade name: Pronestyl).

prognosis: The probable outlook for recovery from disease.

prolapsed cord: A delivery in which the umbilical cord appears at the vaginal orifice before the head of the infant.

prone: Lying flat with the face downward.

prophylaxis: Measures to prevent the occurrence of a given disease or abnormal state.

propranolol: A drug used to suppress life-threatening dysrhythmias. It is also sometimes used in the treatment of hypertension and angina (trade name: Inderal).

prostate: A gland at the base of the male bladder that often becomes enlarged later in life, causing obstruction to urine flow.

prosthesis: An artificial part made to replace a natural one.

prostration: Collapse.

protocol: A standard routine.

proximal: Closer to a point of reference, usually the heart or midline.

pruritus: Itching.

psychosis: A mental disorder causing disintegration of personality and loss of contact with reality.

psychosomatic: Pertaining to bodily manifestations of any disorder of the mind.

pubis: One of the two bones that form the anterior portion of the pelvic ring.

puerperium: The convalescent period following the birth of a baby.

pulmonary: Referring to the lungs or related structures.

pulmonary arteries: The arteries that carry blood poor in oxygen from the right ventricle to the lungs.

pulmonary circulation: The flow of blood from the right ventricle through the pulmonary arteries and all of their branches and capillaries in the lungs, and thence back to the left atrium through the venules and pulmonary veins; also called the lesser circulation.

pulmonary edema: Congestion of the pulmonary air spaces with watery serum and foam, often secondary to left heart failure.

pulmonary embolism: Obstruction of a pulmonary artery or arteries by solid, liquid, or gaseous material swept through the right heart into the blood vessels of the lungs.

pulmonary veins: The vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium.

pulmonic valve: The valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.

pulsatile: Characterized by rhythmic beating.

pulse: The expansion and contraction of an arterial wall caused by ventricular systole and diastole.

pulse deficit: The difference in heart rate between that measured by palpating the apex of the heart and that obtained by palpating a peripheral artery.

pulse pressure: The difference between the systolic and diastolic blood pressures, indicative of stroke volume.

pulse rate: The heart rate determined by counting the number of pulsations per minute palpated in any superficial artery.

pump failure: An inability of the heart to maintain cardiac output, resulting in congestive heart failure and cardiogenic shock.

pupil: The small opening in the center of the iris.

Purkinje network: A system of fibers in the ventricles that conducts the excitation impulse from the bundle branches to the myocardium.

PVC: An abbreviation for premature ventricular contraction.

PVR: An abbreviation for peripheral vascular resistance.

P wave: The first wave of the ECG complex, representing depolarization of the atria.

qd: An abbreviation meaning "every day".

qh: An abbreviation meaning "every hour".

q2h: An abbreviation meaning "every two hours".

qid: An abbreviation meaning "four times a day".

QRS complex: Deflections of the ECG produced by ventricular depolarization.

Q-T interval: The period between the onset of the QRS complex and the end of the T wave, representing ventricular depolarization and repolarization.

quadrant: A term used to designate one quarter of the abdomen.

quadriplegia: Paralysis of both arms and legs.

quinidine: A drug used to treat various atrial and ventricular dysrhythmias.

Q wave: The first negative wave or deflection of the QRS complex not preceded by an R wave.

raccoon sign: Also called "coon's eyes"; bilateral, symmetric, periorbital ecchymoses seen with some skull fractures.

radial: Pertaining to the wrist.

radioactive: Having the property of emitting ionizing radiation.

radius: The bone on the thumb side of the forearm.

rales: Abnormal breath sounds produced by flow of air through constricted, edematous, or fluid-filled small airways.

rape: Sexual intercourse that is inflicted forcibly on another person, against that person's will or while they are unconscious.

receptor: A specialized area in a tissue that initiates certain actions upon specific stimulation.

rectum: The distal 1/3 portion of the large intestine. Water and potassium are reabsorbed from this area.

recumbent: Lying down.

red blood cell: Erythrocyte; a cell that carries oxygen.

reduce: To restore a part to its normal position, as in a dislocation or fractured bone.

reflex: An involuntary muscular action in response to some stimulation.

regression: In psychiatry, a return to an earlier or former state.

regurgitation: A passive, retrograde flow of liquid, ie. gastric contents from the stomach into the pharynx and mouth (to be distinguished from the active process of vomiting).

relative refractory period: The stage of ventricular diastole during which the cardiac muscle is recharging (repolarizing) to a resting state following depolarization. During this phase of the refractory period, the heart can be stimulated to contract prematurely.

renal: Pertaining to the kidney.

repeater: A miniature transmitter that picks up a radio signal and rebroadcasts it, thus extending the range of a radio communications system.

repolarization: The electric process of recharging depolarized muscle fibers back to the resting state.

respiration: The act of breathing; the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide among the tissues, lungs, and atmosphere.

respiratory arrest: Cessation of breathing.

respiratory failure: Failure of the respiratory system to maintain an arterial PO2 greater than 60 torr and PCO2 less than 50 torr.

resting potential: The electric charge of the muscle fibers during the resting, polarized state.

resuscitation: The act of reviving an unconscious person by any means.

retention: An inability to void.

retina: The lining of the back of the eye that receives visual images and transmits then through the optic nerve to the brain.

retractions: Drawing in of the intercostal muscles and the muscles above the clavicles in respiratory distress.

retro-: A prefix meaning "located behind".

retrograde: Moving or flowing in a backward direction. Moving in a direction opposite of normal.

retroperitoneum: The area behind the peritoneum, containing the kidneys.

retrosternal: Situated or occuring behind the sternum.

Rh factor: An antigen present on the red blood cells of some individuals. When Rh factor is present, the individual is said to be Rh positive (Rh+); when Rh factor is absent, the individual is Rh negative (Rh-).

rhonchi: Coarse, rattling sounds somewhat like snoring, usually caused by secretions in the bronchial tubes.

rib: One of the 12 bones forming the thoracic cavity wall.

rib cage: The supporting structure of the chest.

right atrium: The upper right chamber of the heart, which receives blood from the venae cavae and supplies blood to the right ventricle.

right heart failure: An inability of the right ventricle to pump blood forward effectively, causing a backup of blood into the systemic veins, with consequent edema of body tissues.

right ventricle: The lower right chamber of the heart, which receives blood from the right atrium and pumps blood out through the pulmonic valve into the pulmonary arteries.

Ringer's solution: A sterile intravenous solution containing sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride ions in concentrations similar to those present in blood. It is useful for replacing fluid losses, as in dehydration.

risk factor: A factor that leads to and perpetuates a disease process.

R-on-T pattern: A dangerous kind of PVC that is seen on the ECG to fall on the peak of the T wave, representing the occurrence of an extrasystole during the vulnerable period of ventricular repolarization and often triggering ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.

R-R interval: The period of time between the onset of one QRS complex and the onset of the succeeding QRS complex.

R wave: The positive wave or deflection in the QRS complex.

Rx: An abbreviation meaning "prescription".

s (barred): An abbreviation meaning "without".

sacral: Pertaining to the sacrum, part of the lower spine.

sacroiliac joint: The point of attachment of the ilium to thesacrum.

sacrum: A part of the lower spine formed by five fused vertebrae.

saddle joint: A joint formed where a portion of one bone hangs over another, as in the thumb.

salicylate: The class of drugs that includes aspirin.

saline: A solution containing salt.

salivary glands: The glands that produce and secrete saliva, connected to the mouth through ducts.

SA node: An abbreviation for sinoatrial node. Usually the pacemaker in charge of a normal heart beat.

scalp vein set: An intravenous needle with butterfly "wings". Now rarely used to infuse fluids.

scapula: The shoulder blade.

sclera: Tough, white covering of the eyeball.

sebaceous gland: A gland in the dermis that secretes an oily substance known as sebum.

secondary pacemaker: A pacemaker site or ectopic focus in the electric conduction system of the heart other than the SA node.

sedative: A drug that depresses the activity of the central nervous system, thus having a calming effect, e.g., barbiturates, chloral hydrate.

seizure: An attack of epilepsy; a convulsion.

semicircular canals: Small structures in the inner ear that help maintain one's equilibrium by reporting orientation to the brain.

seminal duct: The duct through which sperm pass into the seminal vesicles.

sensory nerves: Nerves that send messages of various sense modalities (e.g. temperature, pain, touch, taste) through the spinal cord to the brain.

sepsis: Generalized body poisoning by the products of bacteria.

septic shock: Shock resulting from severe bacterial infection.

septum: A dividing wall or partition, usually separating two cavities.

sequelae: The aftereffects of a disease or injury.

serum: The liquid portion of clotted blood. Water and salts found in the blood.

shock: A state of inadequate tissue perfusion, which may be caused by pump failure (cardiogenic shock), volume loss (hypovolemic shock), vasodilatation (neurogenic shock), or any combination of these.

shunt: The situation in which a portion of the output of the right heart reaches the left heart without being oxygenated in the lungs. It may be caused by atelectasis, pulmonary edema, or a variety of other factors.

sickle cell anemia: A hereditary, genetically determined, hemolytic anemia occurring in the Black population, characterized by arthralgias, acute attacks of abdominal pain, and recurrent embolic episodes.

SIDS: An abbreviation for sudden infant death syndrome.

sigmoid: The S-shaped, terminal portion of the descending colon.

sign: Bodily evidence of disease found on physical examination; an indication of illness or injury that the examiner OBSERVES.

silent acute myocardial infarction: Painless myocardial infarction, occurring in 10 to 20 percent of patients with AMI, especially the elderly.

simplex: A method of radio communication utilizing a single frequency that enables either transmission or reception of either voice or an ECG signal but is incapable of simultaneous transmission and reception.

sinoatrial node (SA node): The dominant pacemaker of the heart, located at the junction of the superior vena cava and the right atrium.

sinus arrhythmia: A slight irregularity of the heart rate caused by changes in parasympathetic tone during breathing.

sinus bradycardia: Sinus rhythm with a rate less than 60 per minute.

sinus tachycardia: Sinus rhythm with a rate greater than 100 per minute.

skeleton: The hard, bony structure that forms the main scaffolding of the body.

skull: The bony structure surrounding the brain; cranium.

SL: An abbreviation for sublingual.

sling: A triangular bandage applied around the neck to immobilize an arm.

small intestine: The portion of the intestine between the stomach and the colon.

sniffing position: The position of a patient for endotracheal intubation, with the neck flexed and the head extended.

snoring: Noise made on inhalation when the upper airway is partially obstructed by the tongue.

socket: A hollow in a bone into which a rounded part fits.

sodium: The major cation of the extracellular fluid.

sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3): A chemical buffer used to increase pH when acidosis is present.

solution: A liquid consisting of a mixture of two or more substances that are molecularly dispersed through one another in a homogeneous manner.

soporific: A drug that produces deep sleep.

spasm: A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles; a sudden but transitory constriction of a passage, canal, or orifice, as in laryngospasm.

sphincter: A circularly arranged muscle that acts as a valve to control the retention or release of fluids or semisolid materials in the body.

sphygmomanometer: A device for measuring blood pressure.

spinal canal: The area filled with spinal fluid immediately surrounding the spinal cord.

spinal cord: The collection of nerve tracts extending from the brain down the foramen of the vertebral column.

spirits: Preparations of volatile substances dissolved in alcohol, e.g., spirits of ammonia.

spleen: The organ located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen that destroys old red blood cells.

splenomegaly: An enlarged spleen.

splint: Any device used to immobilize a part of the body.

spontaneous pneumothorax: A rupture of the lung parenchyma without trauma, leading to the accumulation of air in the pleural space.

sprain: Trauma to a joint that causes injury to the ligaments.

SQ: An abbreviation meaning subcutaneous.

squelch: To eliminate unwanted noise on a radio frequency.

stasis: The slowing down or cessation of blood flow to an area.

stat: An abbreviation meaning "immediately".

status asthmaticus: A severe, prolonged asthmatic attack that cannot be broken with provental or epinephrine.

status epilepticus: The occurrence of two or more seizures without a period of complete consciousness between them.

stenosis: Narrowing or stricture of a hollow tube.

sterile: Free from living organisms such as bacteria.

sternocleidomastoid muscle: The large muscle that is easily felt at the side of the neck.

sternum: The long, flat bone located in the midline in the anterior part of the thoracic cage.

stethoscope: An instrument for performing auscultation.

stimulant: An agent that increases the level of bodily activity.

stoma: A small opening, especially an artificially created opening, such as that made by tracheostomy.

stomach: The hollow digestive organ in the epigastrium that receives food material from the esophagus.

strain: An overstretching of a muscle; a soft tissue injury involving a muscle.

stricture: Narrowing of a duct or any natural passage by an inflammatory process.

stridor: A harsh, high-pitched respiratory sound associated with severe upper airway obstruction, such as laryngeal edema.

stroke: Cerebrovascular accident.

stroke volume: The amount of blood pumped forward with each ventricular contraction.

S-T segment: The interval between the end of the QRS complex and the beginning of the T wave. It is often elevated or depressed with respect to the isoelectric line when there is significant myocardial ischemia.

stupor: A state of reduced sensibilities; mental confusion.

subclavian vein: A large vein located beneath the clavicle, joining the internal jugular vein.

subcutaneous (SQ): Beneath the skin.

subcutaneous emphysema: A condition in which trauma to the lung or airway results in the escape of air into tissues of the body, especially the chest wall, neck, and face, causing a crackling sensation on palpation of the skin.

subdural: Occuring beneath the dura, i.e., beneath the heavy, sheathlike covering of the brain. The term is often used in connection with the subdural hematoma following trauma to the head.

sublingual (SL): Under the tongue.

substernal: Under the sternum; retrosternal.

sucking chest wound: Open pneumothorax.

sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): Crib death; the death of an infant after the first few weeks of life, the cause of which cannot be established by careful autopsy.

suicide: The taking of one's own life.

sunstroke: A form of heat stroke caused by prolonged sun exposure.

superficial: On the surface; the opposite of deep.

superior: An anatomic term referring to an organ or part that is located above another organ or part of the body.

superior vena cava: A major vein that empties venous blood from the upper extremities, head, and neck into the right atrium.

supinate: To turn the forearm so that the palm faces upward.

supine: Lying flat with the face upward.

suppository: A drug mixed in a firm base that melts at room temperature, shaped to fit various body orifices.

supraventricular dysrhythmia: A dysrhythmia arising from any portion of the electric conduction system above the ventricles.

supraventricular tachycardia: A tachyarrhythmia arising from above the ventricles.

suspension: A preparation of a pulverized drug in liquid. It requires thorough shaking before use.

suture: A type of joint in which the articulating surfaces are united, as in the skull; a type of special thread used in closing a wound.

swath: A cravat tied around the body to enhance immobilization of a part.

S wave: The first downward deflection of the QRS complex that is preceded by an R wave.

sweat gland: A gland that secretes water and electrolytes through the skin.

sympathetic nervous system: A subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that governs the body's "fight-flight" reactions, stimulating cardiac activity.

sympathomimetic: Producing effects similar to those engendered by stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, hence an alpha or beta sympathetic drug.

symphysis pubis: The midline articulation of the pubic bones.

symptom: An abnormal feeling of distress and/or awareness of disturbance of bodily function experienced by a patient. Symptoms are elicited in the history.

syncope: Fainting; a brief loss of consciousness caused by transiently inadequate blood flow to the brain.

syndrome: A complex of symptoms and/or signs characteristic of a condition.

synergism: The combined effect of two or more drugs such that their action in combination is greater than the sum of their individual actions.

syrup: A drug suspended in sugar and water to improve its taste.

syrup of ipecac: Drug used to induce vomiting.

systemic: Referring to anything that affects the body as a whole.

systemic circulation: The flow of blood from the left ventricle through the aorta, to all of its branches and capillaries in the tissues, and thence back to the right atrium through the venules, veins, and venae cave; also called the greater circulation.

systole: The period during which the ventricles contract.

systolic blood pressure: The peak pressure exerted by the blood on the arterial walls during ventricular contraction.

tablet: A powdered drug that has been molded or compressed into a small disc.

tact: The ability to tell someone to go to hell and have them happy to be on their way. Tact is one of the paramedic's most important skills a paramedic can have.

tachyarrhythmia: A rapid dysrhythmia (heart rate over 120-140/min).

tachycardia: A rapid heart rate, over 100 per minute.

tachypnea: An excessively rapid rate of breathing (over 25/min in adults).

tamponade: To squeeze or block off. To block with pressure or with a balloon.

tamponade (cardiac): Acute compression of the heart caused by accumulation of serous fluid or blood in the pericardium.

tarsal: Pertaining to the ankle.

TBW: An abbreviation for total body water. Usually expressed as a percent of body weight. Men-60% Women-70% Children-80% Infants-90%

telemetry: A process of communicating physiologic data, such as the ECG, over long distances by radio or telephone. Also known as Biotelemetry.

temple: The region on each side of the head above and anterior to the ears.

temporal: The region of the temples.

temporal lobe: A brain lobe containing the control centers for speech.

temporomandibular joint: The articulation of the mandible with the skull.

tendon: The fibrous portion of muscle that attaches to bone.

tension pneumothorax: The situation in which air enters the pleural space through a one-way valve defect in the lung, causing progressive increase in intrapleural pressure, with lung collapse and impairment of circulation.

testes: The male gonads, which are normally situated in the scrota and which produce sperm.

tetanus: An acute, infectious disease caused by a bacterial toxin, with spasm of the jaw muscles causing trismus (lockjaw) and of the back muscles causing opisthotonos.

tetany: Sustained contraction of a muscle group.

therapeutic action: A beneficial action of a drug to correct a bodily dysfunction.

thermal: Pertaining to heat.

thoracic: Pertaining to the chest.

thorax: The part of the body between the neck and the diaphragm, encased by the ribs.

thready: Describing a pulse that is weak or feeble.

thrombocyte: A platelet; a cellular element of the blood involved in clotting.

thrombophlebitis: A condition in which inflammation of a vein leads to the formation of a plug (thrombus) in the vein.

thrombosis: The formation of a blood clot or thrombus.

thrombus: A fixed blood clot that forms inside a blood vessel.

thyroid: A gland located in the neck that produces hormones involved in the regulation of metabolism.

TIA: An abbreviation for transient ischemic attack.

tibia: The shin bone, located in the front part of the lower leg.

tic: A spasmodic twitching of a facial muscle.

TID: An abbreviation meaning "three times a day".

tidal volume: The amount of air inhaled or exhaled during normal, quiet breathing; the volume of one breath.

tincture: A dilute, alcoholic extract of a drug, e.g., tincture of iodine.

tinnitus: A ringing or tinkling noise, or sometimes a buzzing or roaring noise, in the ears.

tissue plasminogen activator (TPA): A naturally occuring enzyme in the body that breaks down clots after about a week. It has been concentrated and refined to quickly (within minutes) dissolve clots of heart attacks, arterial emboli, and some CVAs.

tissue: A collection of cells of similar type that are specialized for performance of a particular function.

titration: In pharmacologic treatment, the method of administering a drug dose in very small increments at a time while carefully gauging the effect of each increment.

tolerance: The progressive diminution of susceptibility to the effects of a drug after repeated doses.

tonic-clonic: Referring to the repetitive contraction and relaxation of muscle groups in a seizure.

total body water (TBW): The total water content of the body, equivalent to about 60 percent of body weight in the adult male. see TBW

tourniquet: A constricting device used circumferentially around an extremity to impede venous outflow or obstruct arterial inflow.

toxemia: A generalized poisoning of the system caused by absorption of bacterial products.

toxemia of pregnancy: Eclampsia.

toxic: Pertaining to a poison; harmful.

toxin: A poison manufactured by bacteria or other forms of animal or vegetable life.

toxoid: A chemically modified toxin that, when injected, stimulates the development of immunity against a specific disease but that is not itself harmful, e.g., tetanus toxoid.

trachea: The cartilaginous tube extending from the larynx to its division into the main bronchi; the windpipe.

tracheostomy: A surgical opening of the trachea to create an airway.

traction: Pulling or exerting force to straighten the alignment of a part of the body.

trade name: The name under which a drug is marketed by a given manufacturer.

transfusion: An infusion of blood into a vein.

transfusion reaction: An adverse response to receiving blood or blood products.

transient ischemic attack (TIA): A "little stroke"; a temporary loss of function resulting from a transitory decrease in circulation to a part of the brain. A TIA may warn of an impending stroke.

trauma: Injury.

traumatic asphyxia: A syndrome resulting from a very severe compression injury of the chest, with cyanosis of the face and neck, bulging of the eyes, and caved-in chest.

tremor: An involuntary twitching of an extremity.

Trendelenburg position: The position in which a patient is placed on his back with legs raised and head lowered; also called shock position.

triage: A system used for categorizing and sorting patients according to the severity of their problems.

tricuspid valve: The valve between the right atrium and right ventricle.

trimester: Period of three months.

trismus: A spasm of the jaw muscles causing the teeth to be clenched shut, characteristic of tetanus.

turgor: Fluid filled; the normal state of turgidity and tension. esp. in tissues.

T wave: An upright, flat, or inverted wave following the QRS complex of the ECG, representing ventricular repolarization.

UHF: Ultrahigh frequency; the portion of the radio frequency spectrum between 300 and 3,000 mHz.

ulcer: An open lesion of the skin or mucous membrane.

ulna: The larger bone of the forearm, on the side opposite that of the thumb.

umbilical cord: A flexible structure connecting the fetus to the placenta.

umbilicus: The navel; the "bellybutton".

unconscious: A state of being insensible or comatose.

unifocal: Arising from a single site.

uremia: A toxic condition caused by the inability of the kidneys to remove waste products of metabolism.

ureter: The tube leading from the kidney to the bladder.

urethra: The tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body.

URI: An abbreviation for upper respiratory infection.

urine: The fluid secreted by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and discharged through the urethra.

urticaria: Hives.

uterus: The muscular organ lying in the female pelvis that houses the developing fetus; the womb.

uvula: A small, dangling protrusion attached to the soft palate in the midline.

vagal activity: Parasympathetic activity.

vagina: The genital canal in the female extending from the uterus to the vulva; the birth canal.

vagus: The tenth cranial nerve, chief mediator of the parasympa thetic nervous system.

vallecula: The groove between the base of the tongue and the epiglottis.

Valsalva maneuver: A forced exhalation against a closed glottis, the effect of which is to stimulate the vagus nerve and thereby slow the heart rate.

variant angina: See Prinzmetal's angina.

vasoconstriction: Narrowing of the diameter of a blood vessel.

vasoconstrictor: A substance that causes narrowing of the diameter of blood vessels; an alpha sympathetic agent.

vasodilation: Widening of the diameter of blood vessels.

vasodilator: A substance that causes widening of the diameter of blood vessels.

vasopressor: An agent that raises the blood pressure by causing vasoconstriction.

vasovagal: Having vascular and vagal components; often used to refer to a syndrome consisting of precordial distress, anxiety, nausea, and sometimes syncope.

VD: An abbreviation for venereal disease.

vein: A blood vessel that carries blood to the heart.

venae cavae: The largest veins of the body, which return blood to the right atrium.

venipuncture: The puncture of a vein to obtain a blood sample or to introduce a catheter.

venom: A poison, usually the poisonous substances derived from snakes, spiders, bees, wasps, and other such creatures.

venous blood: Blood poor in oxygen, containing hemoglobin in the reduced state.

ventilation: Breathing, moving air in and out of the lungs.

ventral: Referring to the front of the body; anterior.

ventricle: A thick-walled, muscular chamber that receives blood from the atrium and pumps it into the pulmonary or systemic circulation.

ventricular aneurysm: A localized bulge in the wall of the ventricle, often the late result of myocardial infarction.

ventricular arrhythmia: A dysrhythmia arising in the His-Purkinje system.

ventricular ectopic activity: Initiation of electric impulses by a secondary pacemaker in the ventricles.

ventricular fibrillation: Rapid, tremulous, and ineffectual contractions of the cardiac ventricles; cardiac arrest.

ventricular standstill: Asystole with sinus p waves.

ventricular tachycardia: Rapid, repetitive firing of a ventricular ectopic focus; a life-threatening dysrhythmia.

venule: A very small vein.

vernix: A white, cheesy substance covering the skin of the newborn.

vertebra: One of the 33 bones of the spinal column.

vertebral: Pertaining to the spinal column.

vertex: The top of the head.

vertigo: Dizziness; a hallucination of movement; a sensation that the external world is spinning around.

VHF: Very high frequency; the portion of the radio frequency spectrum between 30 and 300 mHz.

viable: Capable of living.

vial: A glass container storing a sterile powdered or liquid drug for parenteral use, sealed with a rubber stopper, and often containing multiple doses.

visceral: Pertaining to organs of the body.

visceral pleura: The outer, membranous covering of the lungs.

vital capacity: The volume of air that can be forcefully exhaled from the lungs following a full inhalation.

vital signs: Measurements of body functions, including pulse, respirations, and blood pressure.

vitreous fluid: A jellylike, transparent substance filling the inside of the eye.

vocal cords: Paired structures in the larynx whose vibrations produce sound.

volar: Pertaining to the palm side of the arm.

volume expander: An intravenous fluid that stays in the vascular space, usually a colloid or crystalloid.

voluntary commitment: A situation in which a patient signs himself into a psychiatric facility of his own free will.

voluntary muscles: The muscles that function under the conscious control of the brain.

vomiting: A forceful, active expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth (as opposed to regurgitation, which is passive).

vomitus: The matter ejected from the stomach by vomiting.

vulnerable period: An interval during the relative refractory period of the ventricular repolarization, corresponding to the upstroke of the T wave, near its peak, in which an ectopic impulse or an unsynchronized current can produce ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.

vulva: The external parts of the female genitalia.

watt: A unit of electric energy obtained by multiplying amperes times volts.

watt-seconds: Units of electric energy expressed as watts delivered for 1 second; joules.

wheeze: A high-pitched, whistling sound characterizing obstruction or spasm of the lower airways.

white blood cell: Leukocyte; the cellular element of the blood that produces antibodies and participates in the inflammatory response.

willis, circle of: Arterial loop under brain that is responsible for autoregulation and constant perfusion of cerebral arteries.

withdrawal: Symptoms produced by abstinence from a drug to which one is addicted.

xiphoid: The small, cartilaginous, and bony portion of the sternum attached to the lower end of the body of the sternum.

Xylocaine: A trade name for lidocaine.

zygoma: The cheek bone.


May 16, 2000

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