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Medical Glossary


Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that occurs when fatty deposits build up in the coronary arteries (the arteries supplying the heart itself), reducing blood flow to the heart. Angina is not a disease in itself, but a symptom and warning sign of coronary artery disease.


Arrhythmia is a general term for any heart rhythm that is abnormal. Abnormal heart rhythms include a heart beating too fast, too slow or irregularly/inconsistently. Arrhythmias occur when the heart’s electrical conduction system is not working properly and can occur at any age. There are many different types of arrhythmias, some of which do not affect your overall health, however, some can be life-threatening. They can be associated with symptoms, including palpitations (an awareness of your heart beat), dizzy spells and shortness of breath, or you may not notice anything abnormal. Treatment for an arrhythmia depends on its type and how much it is affecting your health and daily life. Some treatments include medications, removing rhythm-altering triggers, lifestyle changes (i.e. diet and exercise) or ablation.


ASDs or ‘hole-in-the=hearts’ account for approximately 7% of congenital heart defects. Left untreated they may lead to:

  • Right heart failure through increases in pressure and chamber size
  • Elevated lung pressures
  • Strokes
  • Electrical disorders

Repair is possible via catheter-based therapies which allow an umbrella-shaped device to enter the blood vessel and be positioned across the defect negating the need for surgery.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (or AF) is one of the most common types of heart rhythm disorder whereby the electrical system of the heart is disrupted and causes the heart to beat in an irregular fashion. Atrial fibrillation can be asymptomatic or cause shortness of breath and palpitations. It also increases the risk of stroke. An ECG or Holter monitor is used to confirm Atrial Fibrillation.

Atrial Flutter

Atrial flutter is an abnormal heart rhythm that occurs in the atria of the heart. In patients that have not had any previous cardiac procedures or surgery, atrial flutter tends to arise from the right atrium. When it first occurs, it is usually associated with a fast heart rate or tachycardia (beats over 100 per minute). It can be associated with two major problems: 1. Symptoms of a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. 2. Increased risk of stroke.

Locations & Directions

Southern Heart Centre

Suite 18 Level 4, St George Private Hospital, 1 South St, Kogarah, NSW 2217

  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Cardiac Society of Australia & New Zealand
  • Fellow of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • The Australian Council On Healthcare Standards
  • St George's Hospital Community Health Services
  • St George Private Hospital
  • Ramsay Health Care