Glossary of Terms D – K

Glossary of Terms D – K


The act of using equipment to send an electrical shock to the heart to stop an irregular heart rhythm. Defibrillation is the only cure to sudden cardiac arrest.


A medical device used to treat a victim with a life-threatening irregular heart rhythm. A manual defibrillator is used by trained professionals such as ER doctors and cardiologists. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is safe and can be used by anyone with minimal trained.

Doppler Ultrasound

A form of ultrasound that can detect blood flow. Used to diagnose cardiac disease.

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

A test that measures and records the electrical activity in the heart.

Electrophysiology (EP)

The study of the electrical activity in the heart. Studies and procedures are conducted in the EP Lab of a hospital.


Emergency medical service. Professional services that respond to 911 calls relating to sudden cardiac arrest.


Emergency medical technician. A trained and certified professional who can use advanced life support techniques to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

Enlarged Heart

An unusually large heart. This condition can be a a result of conditions such as an abnormal heart rhythm, stress, or weakening of the heart muscle.


A rapid twitching of the heart muscles caused by an abnormal and sometimes chaotic discharge of electrical impulses. Atrial fibrillation results in a rapid and irregular heart beat. Ventricular fibrillation results in death unless treated by a defibrillator.


A rapid, but organized vibration of the heart muscle. Atrial flutter can result in 250-350 heart beats per minute.

Fully Automatic AED

An AED that does not require the responder to press a button to deliver a shock. Once a fully automatic device determines that the victim is in a shockable heart rhythm, it advises the responder to stand clear and applies the lifesaving treatment. See also semi-automatic AED.

Good Samaritan Protection

Immunity protection provided by each state government and the Federal government to encourage lay responders to treat a victim of sudden cardiac arrest with an AED and CPR. This protection protects a responder from being held liable in any action or inaction taken.

Heart Attack

See myocardial infarction.

Heart Murmur

An abnormal swooshing or wooshing sound made by blood flowing through the heart. Most heart murmurs are harmless and most people with a heart murmur will grow out of it in adulthood. Less common are heart murmurs that indicate a more serious heart defect.

Heart Rate

The number of complete cycles of the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle per minute. A normal heart rate for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Holter Monitoring

Continuous monitoring of the electrical activity of a patient’s heart with a small, portable ECG machine. The device is typically worn around the neck or waist for a 24 hour period.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

A genetic disorder of the heart in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it harder to pump blood. This condition can have very few symptoms and oftentimes go unnoticed. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can sometimes cause sudden cardiac arrest.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

A medical device that is implanted in the body to diagnose and treat abnormal electrical arrhythmias. If an abnormal arrhythmia is detected, the ICD will apply a shock to restore the heart to a normal rhythm.

Ingress Protection (IP)

A ratings standard that measures a device’s degree of protection from dust and water. The higher the number, the greater the resistance.


A measure of electrical energy equal to the work done when a current of one ampere passes through a resistance of one ohm for one second. Each AED manufacturers has a unique waveform of energy and measures the delivery of that waveform in joules.

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