Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Abduction
Motion of a limb away from the midline
Adduction
Motion of a limb toward the midline
Adrenaline
Also known as "epinephrine". A drug given to counter anaphylactic shock and severe asthma attacks. Also used during ALS
Agonal Respirations
Slow, gasping respiration, sometimes seen in dying patients
Anaphylactic Shock
A sudden reaction to a foreign substance such as a bee sting, peanut oil or legumes. Characterised by a red, puffy appearance to the face and affected parts, impaired breathing and racing pulse.
Anoxia
Absence of oxygen
Anterior
Means 'front'. Hence the anterior interventricular artery is at the front of the body, the side where the face is normally.
Aneurysm
A swelling or enlargement of a part of an artery, resulting from weakening of the arterial wall
Angina Pectoris
Transient chest discomfort caused by partial or temporary blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle
Angle of Louis
A ridge on the sternum that lies at the level where the second rib is attached to the sternum; provides a constant and reliable bony landmark on the anterior chest wall
Aorta
The main artery of the body. Comes out of the heart and divides into the ascending and descending aorta.
Aortic Semi-lunar Valve
The valve between the left ventricle and the aorta.
Apgar
A simple and repeatable method to quickly and summarily assess the health of newborn children immediately after childbirth.
Apnoea
Cesation of respiration
Artery
One of the body's highways for blood. Carries blood from the heart to the tissues. Arterial blood is usually bright red and under considerable pumping pressure.
Asthma
Spasm of bronchi causing difficulty in exhaling
Atrium
Chambers in the heart where blood is collected and pumped through to the ventricles.
Atropine
A drug which has the effect of blocking vagal stimulation, speeding up the heart. Also used during ALS to reverse asystole and bradycardia
AVPU
method of assessing a patient's level of consciousness by determining whether a patient is Alert, responsive to Verbal stimulus or Pain, or Unresponsive; used principally in the initial assessment.
Battle Signs
Bruising behind an ear over the mastoid process that may indicate skull fracture.
Bicuspid valve
The valve in the heart between the left atrium and left ventricle.
Bilateral
A body part or condition that appears on both sides of the midline
Blackout
Sudden and spontaneous transient loss of consciousness with complete recovery
Bradycardia
Slow heartbeat. In a normal adult, a heart rate under 60 is considered bradycardic in most circumstances. However, some people have a normal resting pulse lower than this, usually athletes. 
Bronchitis
Inflammation of the bronchi
Bronchoconstriction
Constriction of the bronchi
Bronchospasm
Spasm of the bronchi, as in what happens during an asthma attack
Brugada Syndrome
Abnormal ST segment elevation in leads V1 to V3 on ECG. This predisposes to ventricular arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death, and may present with syncope.
Capillary
These blood vessels are very small and have thin walls so that gaseous exchange between the blood and the tissues can take place. Capillary bleeding is characterised by oozing.
Cerebro-Spinal Fluid
The liquid inside the skull in which the brain is suspended. It cushions the brain against impacts to the skull.
Colic
A word generally used to describe a squeezing or gripping pain, which is intermittent rather than continuous, and tends to come in waves.
Coronary Arteries
The arteries which supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. They comprise the left and right coronary arteries.
Cot Death
See SIDS
CPR
Stands for Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. The process of keeping someone alive by mechanically emulating the work of the heart and lungs by compressing the chest and blowing air into the lungs. 
Defibrillator
A machine which delivers a controlled electric pulse across the chest to make the heart restart when it has stopped beating effectively. Only usually effective when the heart is in VF
Dementia
is progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging.
DNR
Do Not Resuscitate.Written or verbal instruction to medical/ambulance staff not to attempt resuscitation in the event of cardiac arrest
Dyspnoea
Difficult or laboured breathing
Ecchymosis
The skin discoloration caused by the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels, as in battle signs
Entonox
Also known as Nitronox. A mixture of gases: 50% oxygen, 50% nitrous oxide. An effective analgesia for pain relief.
Exposure
Another name for hypothermia
Fracture
A break or crack in a bone. 
Fowler Position
The position in which the patient is sitting up with the knees bent.
Glasgow Coma Score
A way of measuring the level of consciousness of a casualty. 
Golden Hour
The time from injury to definitive care, during which treatment of shock or traumatic injuries should occur because survival potential is the best
Haematemesis
Vomiting blood. If the blood has been in the stomach and gastric juices have started to break it down it will be a dark red colour with small particles resembling coffee grounds.
Haematuria
Blood stained urine caused by injury or disease of any of the urinary organs
Heat Exhaustion
A condition where the body's temperature rises above 38oC and the person feels sick and dizzy. Caused by dehydration and imbalance in electrolytes.
Heat Stroke
A very serious condition when the body loses the ability to regulate its own temperature and the internal temperature climbs to a dangerous level (40C and above.) Requires urgent treatment.
Hypercarbia
High levels of carbon dioxide
Hyperventilation
Increased breathing rate
Hypothermia
When the body becomes too cold; clinically, when the core temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius.
Hypoxaemia
A low level of saturated oxygen in blood
Hypoxia
A low level of saturated oxygen in the tissues. 
Hypoxic drive
A chronic condition where the normal trigger for breathing is no longer effective, and the body relies on detecting low levels of oxygen to start a breath. Can cause problems when administering oxygen. 
Intravenous
Given by way of the veins.
Jugular
The veins which carry the main blood supply back down from the head. 
Kussmauls Respirations
Deep, rapid breathing; usually the result of an accumulation of certain acids when insulin is not available in the body
Laceration
A rough, ripped wound; e.g. caused by barbed wire.
Left Coronary Artery
Supplies oxygenated blood to the left side of the heart and part of the right side.
Marginal branch
Supplies blood to the right side of the heart. Part of the right coronary artery.
Melaena
Faeces take on a dark colouration due to blood pigmentation. The stools may also be sticky
Meninges
The three membranes which cover the brain and protect it from the skull.
Myocardial Infarction
A blockage in the coronary arteries which supply blood to the myocardium. Commonly termed a heart attack.
Myocardium
The muscle of the heart. 
Neurogenic Shock
Caused by injury or insult to the nervous system. 
Oropharynx
The part of the upper airway at the back of the mouth.
Orthopnoea
Difficulty breathing unless in an upright position
Pneumothorax
An injury to a lung such that air is present in the pleural cavity.
Posterior
Means 'back'. Hence the posterior interventricular artery is at the back of the body, the side where the spine is.
Postictal
The period immediately following a seizure, characterized by extreme tiredness or listlessness
Pulmonary artery
The blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
Pulmonary Semi-lunar Valve
The valve between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
Pulmonary vein
The blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium. 
QRS complex
The part of an ECG rhythm showing electrical activity in the ventricles. 
Rale
An abnormal rattling sound heard during respiration
Rhonchi
A wheezing sound heard from the bronchial tubes
 
Right coronary artery
Supplies oxygenated blood to the right side of the heart and some of the left side.
Septum
The section of the heart separating the left and right atria and ventricles.
Shock
Insufficient oxygen getting to where it is needed in the body. Can be caused by many things including loss of blood, allergic reactions, emotional response and damage to the spinal cord. 
SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant who is younger than 1 year old. Infants who die of SIDS generally do so in their sleep.
Stridor
High pitched whistle caused by obstruction in larynx or trachea
Tachycardia
The heart beating quickly. An adult heart is usually considered tachycardic with a resting rate of more than one hundred beats per minute.
Tension Pneumothorax
A pneumothorax injury where the air cannot escape, leading to a steady build-up of pressure. Very dangerous.
Tricuspid valve
The valve in the heart between the right atrium and right ventricle. 
Unconsciousness
Interruption of the brain's normal activity so that it is no longer aware of its surroundings. 
Vital Signs
The key signs that are used to evaluate the patient's overall condition, including respirations, pulse, blood pressure, level of consciousness, and skin characteristics
Vein
Veins carry blood back to the heart. Venous blood is usually dark red and carries less oxygen than arterial blood. Venous bleeding is characterised by its colour and gushing out of an injury.
Vena Cava
The vein which returns blood to the right atrium of the heart. Comprises the superior vena cava which comes down from above, and the inferior vena cava which comes up from the lower body.
VF
Short for Ventricular Fibrillation. The muscles of the heart are generating their own electrical pulses and the heart has no organised waveform. This then causes the heart to 'quiver' which in turn prevents any blood being pumped by the heart to the rest of the body
Wheeze
Breathing with a rasp or whistling sound
X-ray
Viewing of a part of the body by means of passing very high frequency electromagnetic waves through the part and measuring on film the amount that gets through. 
Yankeur
A type of suction pipe
Zygoma
The cheekbone.
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