Useful Terms

Vocabulary

Acquired heart disease - Acquired heart disease develops over time, usually beginning in middle age, and often affects older dogs. The most prevalent type of acquired heart disease is called atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI). In AVVI, the heart valves gradually lose the ability to close effectively, which causes abnormalities in blood flow. The second most common kind of acquired heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), causes the muscular walls of the heart to become thin and weak, and the chambers to dilate.

ACE inhibitors (or inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme) - A group of medications that are used primarily in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. Commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors are enalapril, benazepril, and ramipril.

Atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI) - A disease also referred to as mitral valve disease or endocardiosis. It occurs when one or more of the heart valves “leaks,” allowing blood to be pumped backwards in the heart.

Cardiology – A medical specialty focused on the workings of the heart and circulatory system.

Circulatory system - The system of organs and tissues, including the heart, blood, blood vessels, lymph, lymphatic vessels and lymph glands, involved in circulating blood and lymph through the body.

Clinical signs - Outward signs of an illness or medical conditions.

Congenital defects - A birth defect. It may be inherited or induced by events that occur during pregnancy.

Congestive heart failure - The inability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. This can be due to inadequate blood flow out of the heart (low output signs) or due to high venous pressure in either the right or left ventricle leading to signs of congestion. Congestive heart failure is associated with increased fluid buildup in areas such as the lungs, liver, or abdominal cavity.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) - A condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, and cannot pump blood efficiently.

Diuretics - Medications to remove excess fluid buildup from the lungs or abdomen, eg, furosemide.

ECG - The electrocardiogram (ECG) records the electrical activity (depolarization and repolarization) of cardiac muscle measured at the body surface by various electrical leads and provides information on heart rate, rhythm, and intracardiac conduction.

Echocardiogram - An echocardiogram is an important, noninvasive tool for evaluating cardiac anatomy and function, as well as surrounding tissues. It is a form of diagnostic ultrasonography that utilizes pulsed, high-frequency sound waves that are reflected from body tissue. These reflective sound waves are calculated and result in a displayed image.

Endocardiosis - A disease also referred to as atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI) or mitral valve disease. It occurs when one or more of the heart valves “leaks,” allowing blood to be pumped backwards in the heart.

Heart - A four-chambered pump made of muscle that circulates blood around the body.

Heart disease - An abnormality of the heart or of the blood vessels supplying the heart that impairs its normal functioning.

Heart failure - The inability of the heart to pump enough blood to sustain normal bodily functions.

Heart murmur - An abnormal sound of the heart; sometimes a sign of abnormal function of the heart valves.

Inodilators - Medications that both increase myocardial contractility and open up constricted blood vessels, reducing the workload on your dog's weakened heart.

Mitral valve disease (MVD) - A disease also referred to as atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI) or endocardiosis. It occurs when one or more of the heart valves “leaks,” allowing blood to be pumped backwards in the heart.

NT-proBNP – A marker found through blood testing that signifies stretching of the heart’s chambers and can be used in detection and diagnosis of heart disease or heart failure.

Radiograph - A photographic image produced on a radiosensitive surface by radiation other than visible light. Example: X-rays.

Heart Health Tips

Exercise your dog regularly.

Tell Us Your Story

Submit your story of a canine member of your family and his or her battle against heart disease.

Is Your Dog at Risk of CHF?

Learn more about the risk factors for your dog.