Antioxidant vitamins: a group of dietary substances that protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage. See background information on vitamins.
Artery: one of the two types of "pipes" through which blood flows around the body. Arteries are those through which blood (carrying oxygen picked up in the lungs) supplies oxygen to muscles and other tissues. (Veins return the blood to the heart.)
Angina: chest pain suffered as a result of heart disease, especially on exertion.
Angioplasty (also known as balloon angioplasty): non-surgical alternative to arterial surgery in the heart (see CABG and PTCA) and in arteries supplying other parts of the body.
Atherosclerosis: fatty coating on the inside walls of the arteries. It "furs" them up and narrows them. This makes the blood flow too slowly.
Blood lipids: collective names for fatty substances in the blood See background information on cholesterol.
Cerebral arteries: the arteries taking oxygen-carrying blood to the brain.
Cholesterol: a type of fat present in the blood that is the prime cause of atherosclerosis. See background information on cholesterol.
Coronary arteries: the arteries that take oxygen-carrying blood to the heart muscle.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG): the operation in which blocked coronary arteries are bypassed, usually with veins from the legs.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), also called Ischaemic Heart Disease: the disease in which the arteries supplying blood to the heart are seriously narrowed by atherosclerosis, causing angina and, sometimes, a heart attack.
Cardiovascular (or Vascular Disease): a blanket term for the whole range of heart and blood vessel diseases (includes CHD, stroke and peripheral vascular disease).
Diabetes Mellitus: a disorder caused by insufficient production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or insensitivity of cells to the effects of insulin. Insulin is responsible for the absorption of glucose into cells for their energy needs and into the liver and fat cells for storage. There are two main sub-types: Type 1 (insulin-dependent) which is more common in younger people, and Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) which is usually of gradual onset with increasing age or obesity. There are a number of complications that can develop from diabetes, and people with diabetes have a higher than average risk of vascular disorders.
Heart Attack (sometimes called a "coronary"): this is what happens when the supply of oxygen-rich blood flowing through one or more of the coronary arteries to the heart muscle is cut off. If the oxygen supply is severely reduced the heart can malfunction or cut out.
Ischaemic: inadequate blood supply.
Myocardial Infarction (MI): a technical description for a heart attack. The myocardium is the heart muscle and an infarct (or infarction) means that some of the tissue has died.
Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA), also known as balloon angioplasty: non- surgical alternative to a CABG. It involves passing a long tube with a small balloon on the end through blood vessels, inflating the balloon and expanding a narrowed artery.
Randomised double-blind clinical trial: one in which participants randomly receive either the active treatment or a placebo (dummy) tablet or capsule, in addition to all of their standard treatments. Neither the participants nor doctors know who is receiving the active treatment and who is taking a placebo See Q&A.
Statins: a group of drugs that reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood See background information on statins.
Stroke: there are two types - ischaemic (or occlusive), which involves a blockage in a cerebral artery, or haemorrhagic, in which there is a bleed into the brain from an artery.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke: a temporary restriction of blood supply to the brain, which causes short-term symptoms such as temporary vision loss or impairment.
Vascular: a word used to describe anything to do with arteries or veins.