The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the Beta Blockers article.
Abnormal: Outside the expected norm, or uncharacteristic of a particular patient.
Adrenaline: A stress hormone produced within the adrenal gland that quickens the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart's contraction, and opens up the bronchioles in the lungs, among other effects. The secretion of adrenaline is part of the human 'fight or flight' response to fear, panic, or perceived threat. Also known as epinephrine.
Akathisia: A movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness and a compelling need to be in constant motion, as well as by actions such as rocking while standing or sitting, lifting the feet as if marching on the spot, and crossing and uncrossing the legs while sitting. People with akathisia are unable to sit or keep still, complain of restlessness, fidget, rock from foot to foot, and pace.
Alpha-1: Short for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Angina: Chest pain due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. The pain is typically severe and crushing, and it is characterized by a feeling of pressure and suffocation just behind the breastbone. Angina can accompany or be a precursor of a heart attack.
Aqueous humor: In medicine, humor refers to a fluid (or semifluid) substance. Thus, the aqueous humor is the fluid normally present in the front and rear chambers of the eye. It is a clear, watery fluid that flows between and nourishes the lens and the cornea; it is secreted by the ciliary processes.
Aspirin: Once the Bayer trademark for acetylsalicylic acid, now the common name for this anti-inflammatory pain reliever.
Beta blocker: A class of drugs that block the effect of beta-adrenergic substances such as adrenaline (epinephrine), that play a key role in the sympathetic portion of the involuntary nervous system. By blocking the action of the sympathetic nervous system on the heart, they slow the heartbeat and relieve stress on the heart. Beta blockers are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, specifically to prevent abnormally fast heart rates (tachycardias) or irregular heart rhythms, such as premature ventricular beats. Because beta blockers reduce the demand of the heart muscle for oxygen, they can be useful in treating angina. They have also become important drugs in improving survival after a heart attack. Due to their effect on blood vessels, beta blockers can lower the blood pressure and are of value in the treatment of hypertension. Other uses include the prevention of migraine headaches and the treatment of familial or hereditary essential tremors. Beta blockers reduce pressure within the eye and they are therefore used to lessen the risk of damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision in patients with glaucoma. Beta blockers include acebutolol (brand name: Sectral), atenolol (brand name: Tenormin), bisoprolol (brand name: Zebeta), metoprol (brand names: Lopressor, Lopressor LA, Toprol XL), nadolol (brand name: Corgard), and timolol (brand name: Blocadren). Topical beta blockers for the eye include timolol ophthalmic solution (brand name: Timoptic) and betaxolol hydrochloride (brand name: Betoptic).
Blood glucose: The main sugar that the body makes from the food in the diet. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to all cells in the body. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.
Blood pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. It's measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first (systolic pressure) is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second (diastolic pressure) is measured before the heart contracts and lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called "hypertension".
Blurred vision: Lack of sharpness of vision with, as a result, the inability to see fine detail. Blurred vision can occur when a person who wears corrective lens is without them. Blurred vision can also be an important clue to eye disease.
Chest: The area of the body located between the neck and the abdomen. The chest contains the lungs, the heart, and part of the aorta. The walls of the chest are supported by the dorsal vertebrae, the ribs, and the sternum. Also known as thorax.
Chest pain: Pain in the chest that can be a result of many things, including angina, heart attack (coronary occlusion), and other important diseases. Chest pain is a warning to seek medical attention, so one should try not to ignore chest pain and 'work through it.'
Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away. People with depression cannot merely 'pull themselves together' and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression. The signs and symptoms of depression include loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex; loss of appetite, with weight loss, or overeating, with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); a persistently sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; unusual fatigue, low energy level, a feeling of being slowed down; sleep disturbance and insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; unusual restlessness or irritability; persistent physical problems such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment, and thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts. The principal types of depression are called major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (manic-depressive disease).
Diarrhea: A common condition that involves unusually frequent and liquid bowel movements. The opposite of constipation. There are many infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea is both uncomfortable and dangerous to the health because it can indicate an underlying infection and may mean that the body is not able to absorb some nutrients due to a problem in the bowels. Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and taking over-the-counter remedies. People with diarrhea that persists for more than a couple days, particularly small children or elderly people, should seek medical attention.
Dilating: The widening and opening of an opening, such as the cervix or esophagus. For example, the amount of widening can be described in terms of the number of fingers that could fit in the cervical opening, or it is described in centimeters.
Dizziness: Painless head discomfort with many possible causes including disturbances of vision, the brain, balance (vestibular) system of the inner ear, and gastrointestinal system. Dizziness is a medically indistinct term which laypersons use to describe a variety of conditions ranging from lightheadedness, unsteadiness to vertigo.
Dysfunction: Difficult function or abnormal function.
Epinephrine: A substance produced by the medulla (inside) of the adrenal gland. The name epinephrine was coined in 1898 by the American pharmacologist and physiologic chemist (biochemist) John Jacob Abel who isolated it from the adrenal gland which is located above (epi-) the kidney ("nephros" in Greek). (Abel also crystallized insulin). Technically speaking, epinephrine is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart's contraction, opens up the airways (bronchioles) in the lungs and has numerous other effects. The secretion of epinephrine by the adrenal is part of the fight-or-flight reaction. Adrenaline is a synonym of epinephrine and is the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia.
Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment, usually accompanied by a feeling of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue can be acute and come on suddenly or chronic and persist.
Gastrointestinal: Adjective referring collectively to the stomach and small and large intestines.
Gastrointestinal tract: The stomach and intestines. Abbreviated GI tract.
Glaucoma: A common eye condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eyes rises because of slowed fluid drainage from the eye. If untreated, it may damage the optic nerve and other parts of the eye, causing the loss of vision or even blindness.
Glucose: The simple sugar that is the chief source of energy. Glucose is found in the blood and is the main sugar that the body manufactures. The body makes glucose from all three elements of food'protein, fats, and carbohydrates'but the largest amount of glucose derives from carbohydrates. Glucose serves as the major source of energy for living cells. However, cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin. Also known as dextrose.
Headache: A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck. Headache, like chest pain or back ache, has many causes.
Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. The heart is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone); in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm. A normal heart is about the size of a closed fist and weighs about 298 grams or 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest, with the balance in the right side of the chest. The heart is composed of specialized cardiac muscle, and it is four-chambered, with a right atrium and ventricle, and an anatomically separate left atrium and ventricle. The blood flows from the systemic veins into the right atrium, thence to the right ventricle, from which it is pumped to the lungs and then returned into the left atrium, thence to the left ventricle, from which it is driven into the systemic arteries. The heart is thus functionally composed of two hearts: the right heart and the left heart. The right heart consists of the right atrium, which receives deoxygenated blood from the body, and the right ventricle, which pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs under low pressure; and the left heart, which consists of the left atrium, which receives oxygenated blood from the lung, and the left ventricle, which pumps the oxygenated blood out to the body under high pressure.
Heart attack: The death of heart muscle due to the loss of blood supply. The loss of blood supply is usually caused by a complete blockage of a coronary artery, one of the arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle. Death of the heart muscle, in turn, causes chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue.
Heart block: A blockage in the conduction of the normal electrical impulses in the heart. Heart block is not uncommon and is detected with an electrocardiogram. Heart block occurs from degeneration or scarring of the electrical pathways in the heart muscle, either naturally or as a result of disease. Heart block typically requires no treatment, but can be a factor in the decision of whether or not to put a pacemaker in a heart that is failing or irregularly beating.
Heart failure: Inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it and, specifically, failure of the heart to pump blood with normal efficiency. When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. Heart failure may be due to failure of the right or left or both ventricles. The signs and symptoms depend upon which side of the heart is failing. They can include shortness of breath (dyspnea), asthma due to the heart (cardiac asthma), pooling of blood (stasis) in the general body (systemic) circulation or in the liver's (portal) circulation, swelling (edema), blueness or duskiness (cyanosis), and enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart.
Heart rate: The number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. The heart rate is based on the number of contractions of the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart). The heart rate may be too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). The pulse is a bulge of an artery from waves of blood that course through the blood vessels each time the heart beats. The pulse is often taken at the wrist to estimate the heart rate.
High blood pressure: A repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg. Chronic high blood pressure can stealthily cause blood vessel changes in the back of the eye (retina), abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, kidney failure, and brain damage. No specific cause for high blood pressure is found in 95 percent of patients. Treatment for high blood pressure involves dietary changes, regular aerobic exercise, and medication. There are many types of medications used to treat high blood pressure including diuretics, beta-blockers, blood vessel dilators, and others. Also known as hypertension.
Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar (glucose). Hypoglycemia may be associated with symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, tremor, palpitations, nausea, and pallor. Hypoglycemia also starves the brain of glucose energy, which is essential for proper brain function. Lack of glucose energy to the brain can cause symptoms ranging from headache, mild confusion, abnormal behavior, loss of consciousness, seizure, and coma. Severe hypoglycemia can cause death. The causes of hypoglycemia include use of drugs (such as insulin), liver disease, surgical absence of the stomach, tumors that release excess amounts of insulin, and pre-diabetes. In some patients, symptoms of hypoglycemia occur during fasting (fasting hypoglycemia). In others, symptoms of hypoglycemia occur after meals (reactive hypoglycemia). Immediate treatment of severe hypoglycemia consists of administering large amounts of glucose and repeating this treatment at intervals if the symptoms persist. Treatment must also be directed at the underlying cause. Treatment of reactive hypoglycemia involves changing the diet, including eating fewer concentrated sweets and ingesting multiple small meals throughout the day.
Hypotension: Any blood pressure that is below the normal expected for an individual in a given environment. Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure).
Intrinsic: 1. An essential or inherent part of a something such as a structure.
Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. The liver has a multitude of important and complex functions, including to manufacture proteins, including albumin (to help maintain the volume of blood) and blood clotting factors; to synthesize, store, and process fats, including fatty acids (used for energy) and cholesterol; to metabolize and store carbohydrates (used as the source for the sugar in blood); to form and secrete bile that contains bile acids to aid in the intestinal absorption of fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; to eliminate, by metabolizing or secreting, the potentially harmful biochemical products produced by the body, such as bilirubin, from the breakdown of old red blood cells and ammonia from the breakdown of proteins; and to detoxify, by metabolizing and/or secreting, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins.
Low blood pressure: Any blood pressure that is below the normal expected for an individual in a given environment. Low blood pressure is also referred to as hypotension.
Lungs: The lungs are a pair of breathing organs located with the chest which remove carbon dioxide from and bring oxygen to the blood. There is a right and left lung.
Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called "skeletal muscle." Heart muscle is called "cardiac muscle." Muscle that is in the walls of arteries and bowel is called "smooth muscle."
Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, including systemic illnesses (such as influenza), medications, pain, and inner ear disease.
Ophthalmic: Pertaining to the eye. For example, an ophthalmic ointment is designed for the eye.
Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia. Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.
Pharmacy: A location where prescription medications are sold. A pharmacy is constantly supervised by a licensed pharmacist.
Rash: Breaking out (eruption) of the skin. A rash can be caused by an underlying medical condition, hormonal cycles, allergies, or contact with irritating substances. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the rash. Medically, a rash is referred to as an exanthem.
Skeletal: Pertaining to the skeleton, the bones of the body that collectively provide the frame for the body.
Skeletal muscle: Along with smooth and cardiac muscle, one of the types of muscle tissue in the body. Skeletal muscle represents the majority of muscle tissue. It is the type of muscle that powers movement of the skeleton, as in walking and lifting.
Stomach: The digestive organ that is located in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. The upper part of the stomach connects to the esophagus, and the lower part leads into the small intestine. When food enters the stomach, muscles in the stomach wall create a rippling motion (peristalsis) that mixes and mashes the food. At the same time, juices made by glands in the lining of the stomach help digest the food. After about 3 hours, the food becomes a liquid and moves into the small intestine, where digestion continues.
Stomach cramps: A nonmedical term most often used to describe pain in the mid- or upper abdominal area. Abdominal pain (pain in the belly) can come from conditions affecting a variety of organs and does not necessarily arise from the stomach even though an individual may perceive that pain is originating in the stomach. Various organs can be the source of pain in the upper abdomen, including the small intestine, colon, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Tenormin: See: Atenolol.
Tremor: An abnormal, repetitive shaking movement of the body. Tremors have many causes and can be inherited, related to illnesses (such as thyroid disease), or caused by fever, hypothermia, drugs, or fear.
Uterus: A hollow, pear-shaped organ that is located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. The narrow lower portion of the uterus is the cervix (the neck of the uterus). The broader upper part is the corpus, which is made up of three layers of tissue. In women of childbearing age, the inner layer (endometrium) of the uterus goes through a series of monthly changes known as the menstrual cycle. Each month, endometrial tissue grows and thickens in preparation to receive a fertilized egg. Menstruation occurs when this tissue is not used, disintegrates, and passes out through the vagina. The middle layer (myometrium) of the uterus is muscular tissue that expands during pregnancy to hold the growing fetus and contracts during labor to deliver the child. The outer layer (parametrium) also expands during pregnancy and contracts thereafter.
Vessel: A tube in the body that carries fluids. Examples of vessels are blood vessels and lymph vessels.
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