Cardiovascular (circulatory) system – Anatomical terminology for healthcare professionals | Kenhub

Like the sands in the hourglass so are the
terms of our lives… “What do you mean? We’re finished. It’s over! It’s all this complicated terminology you
keep using. Your words make no sense to me. Jenny… please! No, no, it’s for the better. Take it! My heart can’t take this anymore! I’m sorry. We’re terminologically incompatible.” In anatomy, there are many terms used to describe
the condition of the heart. Broken, however, is not one of them. Fortunately, for you, learning about the terminology
of our heart and blood vessels need not to be as painful as breaking up with the love
of your life. Welcome to episode five of the Kenhub series
‘Anatomical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals’ – avoiding heartache with cardiovascular
terminology. If you’ve watched the previous episodes in
this series, you’ll know by now our philosophy to learning anatomical terminology. It’s all about breaking down long-winded,
complicated terms into small, easy-to-understand word parts. These, of course, are roots, suffixes, and
prefixes of anatomical terminology. And once you’ve mastered these, your heart
will be fluttering with love rather than flatlining when trying to tackle with new terms in the
clinic. So, let’s first address the elephant in the
room. Where did the term cardiovascular come from? Well, cardio- originates from the Greek ‘kardion’
which, of course, means heart, and although the heart pumps blood around our whole body,
it couldn’t do its job without the vascular part, right? This comes from the Latin term ‘vasculum’
meaning small vessel. Now, we’re ready to delve deeper into our
study today focusing first on the terminology of the heart. So we know that the heart is a complex and
fascinating organ. I mean, it has its own nervous system and
pacemaker for goodness sake, so it should be as no surprise that there are many, many,
many terms containing the root word cardi- or ‘cardio-. For example, let’s look at the layers in and
around the heart wall which all contained cardi- or cardio- in the name. The endocardium is the innermost lining of
the heart wall, the myocardium is the muscle of the heart wall, the epicardium is the lining
which lies directly upon the outer surface of the heart, and we have the pericardium
which is the envelope of fibrous tissue which surrounds and encloses the heart. So we know that the heart is divided into
four chambers – two atria and two ventricles. The term ‘atrium’ comes from the Latin
word from hall or entrance which makes sense as this is where blood is received or enters
your heart. The root form of atrium in clinical terms
is, of course, atrio- as in atriomegaly, an abnormal enlargement of the atrium. The term ventricle, on the other hand, comes
from the Latin ‘ventriculus’ which means a small belly or chamber. Ventricular dysrhythmia is a disturbance of
normal heart rhythm arising in the ventricles. It can also be known as arrhythmia. Within the heart, there are four openings
or orifices which are flanked by sets of valves of the same name. Between the atria and ventricles, we have
the right and left atrioventricular valves, also known as the tricuspid and mitral valves
respectively. And as blood leaves the heart, it passes either
via the pulmonary or aortic valves. In terms of valve terminology, we only really
have the roots valv/o- or valvul/o- with the O at the end, which are relevant to this section
that can be found in terms like valvuloplasty, which is a surgical repair of a valve, or
valvulitis, the inflammation of a valve. But there are several clinical terms which
are often tagged onto the names of the cardiac valves and orifices to describe conditions
affecting them. For example, mitral atresia which refers to
a condition which describes the congenital absence, narrowing, or closure of the mitral
orifice. A tricuspid murmur is a low-noise caused by
damage of the tricuspid valve. Pulmonary stenosis is a narrowing of the pulmonary
orifice. Or you also have aortic insufficiency which
is an incomplete closure of the aortic valve permitting regurgitation or backflow of blood. There are lots of other valve-related conditions,
but we’ve made a start with some of the most common. The next term which I would like to introduce
you to is coronary which is used with a long list of conditions and disorders pertaining
to blood vessels supplying the heart itself. It comes from the Latin ‘corona’ which
refers to a crown or garland which you could say describe the arrangement of the major
coronary vessels around the heart. For example, coronary artery disease or CAD
is a condition where there is reduced blood flow to heart muscle due to narrowing of the
coronary arteries and, finally, let’s speak for a moment about your blood pressure where
there are two essential terms which are definitely worth knowing. The filling and pumping of blood happens in
a rhythmic manner. The resting period when the heart chambers
relax and fill with blood is called diastole whereas the contraction period is called systole. You might see some strange terms coupled with
diastole and systole in clinical practice such as a diastolic thrill, a vibration felt
over the heart during diastole; or a systolic honk, which is a music-like murmur heard during
systole, not unlike that made by a goose. Both of these conditions often indicate some
kind of valve insufficiency. Let’s move on from the heart now to look
at the other star of the cardiovascular system which are, of course, our blood vessels. So many general terms related to the vascular
system often unsurprisingly begin with the root vasculo-. For example, vasculogenesis, which is a process
for the development of blood vessels. We also use the roots vas- or vas/o- with
the O at the end and angi- or angi/o- when talking about blood vessels such as vasodilation
or angiitis. Arteri- or arteri/o- unsurprisingly is the
root associated with arteries such as arteriorrhexis which is the rupture of an artery, and the
same idea applies to veins where we use the root veno-; for instance, venoconstriction. Something not as obvious though is the root
phleb- or phleb/o-, which also refers to veins, like in phlebocarcinoma, which is a malignant
growth on the wall of a vein. Unfortunately, we don’t have time today to
look at the naming of specific arteries and veins in the body. If you are curious though, you can head over
to and check them all out to your heart’s content. Get it? Hearts and content – I think you got it. But there you can find a beautiful complete
atlas of human anatomy and lots of articles for you to get the information in detail. Of course, the main function of the cardiovascular
system is to move around blood and we know that blood is composed of three main types
of blood cells which provide us with three important root words to remember. The first is erythro-, which refers to red
blood cells or erythrocytes. You’ll see this root used in words like
erythrocyturia. The second is leuko-, which comes from leukocytes
or white blood cells. For example, the term leukemia is an umbrella
term for cancers involving malignant proliferation of white blood cells. And, finally, our third term is thrombo-,
which refers to blood platelets which are responsible for clotting our blood. Platelets are also known as thrombocytes,
and an example of this root word in action would be thromboasthenia, which is the condition
of poor blood clotting. Some other useful blood-related roots are
hem- or hem/o- or haem- or haem/o- with an A, hemat- or hemat/o- – they all originate
from the Greek ‘haima’ and all mean blood. One of the examples is hemophilia – a genetic,
sex-dependent disorder which also affects blood clotting. It literally means to have an affinity for
blood or bleeding. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
it was known as the royal disease because Queen Victoria passed it to three generations
of her descendants all across Europe. And as we saw with leukemia, the suffix -emia
refer to a condition of the blood. Another common example is anemia – a reduced
number of red blood cells. Now we all know that, unfortunately, there
is a multitude of things that can go wrong with our cardiovascular system, so let’s hit
the final stretch of our tutorial looking at some of the most important vascular disorders. Let’s begin with the root scler- or scler/o-,
which refers to quite a common condition – the loss of elasticity or hardening of a blood
vessel wall. For example, arteriosclerosis is the loss
of elasticity in arteries. The most common type of it is atherosclerosis
which is a buildup of fatty deposits in the inner layer of an artery which can reduce
blood flow. An aneurysm is a dilation or swelling of an
artery or heart chamber due to weakening of the walls, often a result of atherosclerosis. An embolus or embolism is a type of clot which
has moved from where it was formed and travels within the bloodstream until it causes an
obstruction by entering a vessel that is too small for it to pass often in the lungs. Situation in which there is a reduced blood
flow to an organ or tissue perhaps caused by a clot is known as ischemia. Another reason for interrupted blood flow
to an organ would be due to hemorrhage, which is a bleed from a ruptured blood vessel. Damage to tissue as a result of reduced blood
flow is known as infarction such as myocardial infarction – damage to heart muscle after
ischemia. On the topic of myocardial infarction, angina
or angina pectoris is a general term which you will often hear in clinical practice. It describes a choking or strange-like pain
in the chest resulting from insufficient oxygen supply to the muscle of the heart. Some of these conditions are diagnosed using
tools that are all too easy to get mixed up. We all know all these terms are related to
heart because of their common root cardio-, but suffixes are the deciding factor here. The ending -graph refers to the instrument
or machine which records heart activity. -Graphy is the suffix meaning the process,
so cardiography is the process of recording heart activity which results in obtaining
a cardiogram with -gram referring to the image or result that is produced. After diagnosing the problem, the next step
is, of course, treatment. An angioplasty is a surgical procedure to
reopen a narrowed vessel normally due to build-up of plaque. CABG – I know what you’re thinking, but
this procedure has nothing to do with cabbage. The abbreviation actually stands for coronary
artery bypass graft – that means reconnecting the coronary artery to the aorta past the
point of blockage using a piece of another vessel. Some other abbreviations that you’ll hear
in clinical practice are CPR – the famous cardiopulmonary resuscitation. BPM stands for beats per minute – so your
heart rate. Well, I’d say, this is quite enough for one
day. I hope your brain or heart doesn’t hurt too
much because we still have a few topics to learn in our video series. On the plus side, we are one step closer to
mastering medical and anatomical terminology. I’ll leave you with a little task to challenge
yourself. Can you figure out what these terms mean using
the information you learn in today’s video? And, as usual, let us know your answers in
the comments below. Don’t forget to show us some love and like
this video and subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one. And that wraps up our cardiovascular terminology
video, but we’ll see you in the next installment of our series ‘Anatomical Terminology for
Healthcare Professionals’ on the nervous system. I’ll see you there!