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Glossary of Physiology Terms
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Abbreviation:
CO

Definition:
Cardiac output is defined as the volume of blood pumped every minute by each (left or right) ventricle of the heart. It is generally reported in L/min or mL/min.

Cardiac output (CO) is the product of heart rate (HR) and stroke volume (SV). Thus,

CO = HR × SV

Heart rate is defined as the number of heart contractions per minute. Stroke volume is the volume of blood pumped per ventricular contraction.

For a typical resting adult human being at rest, CO is approximately 5 L/min.

CO = 70 contractions/min × 70 mL/contraction = 4,900 mL/min



Definition:
Thick connective tissue that separates the atria and the ventricles. It is also referred to as fibrous skeleton of the heart. Despite its name, it is important to note that there is no bone in this tissue.



Definition:
Referring to the period after a meal.



Definition:
The absolute refractory period refers to a period during the action potential. This is the time during which another stimulus given to the neuron (no matter how strong) will not lead to a second action potential. The absolute refractory period starts immediately after the initiation of the action potential and lasts until after the peak of the action potential. Following this period, the relative refractory period begins.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Relative refractory period

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Refractory Periods



Definition:
The large blood vessel (artery) that receives the output of the left ventricle of the heart. The aorta is the first and largest (in diameter) artery of the systemic circulation.

Following ventricular contraction (systole), hydrostatic pressure within the ventricle exceeds the pressure in the aorta, which forces blood out of the left ventricle, through the aortic semilunar valve, and into the aorta. As the ventricle relaxes during diastole, the pressure within the left ventricle drops to a level below that in the aorta. At this point, the aortic semilunar valve closes, which prevents the backflow of blood from the aorta to the left ventricle.



Abbreviation:
BMI

Definition:
The body mass index is measured by dividing body weight (in kilograms) by body height (in meters) squared (kg / m2). It is highly correlated with body composition, and higher BMI values are correlated with higher body fat content. The BMI value is used to classify one's weight in several categories including underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. The range of BMI values considered to be normal is 18.5 to 24.9. Higher BMI values are associated with an increased risk for diseases such as diabetes mellitus type II, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

See also:
Body Mass Index Calculator

Other resources:
Body mass index (Wikipedia)



Definition:
A potent blocker of nicotinic cholinergic receptors (nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, nAChR) found at the neuromuscular junction. At small doses, curare can lead to muscle weakness. At high doses, curare can lead to paralysis of skeletal muscles, which would also result in asphyxiation (and ultimately death) due to paralysis of the diaphragm. Curare was commonly the active agent of poison arrow.

Other resources:
See Wikipedia



Definition:
Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological macromolecules, cells, tissues, and organs. Electrical signals such as voltage and/or current are generally measured. Examples include measuring changes in the membrane voltage of excitable cells (e.g., neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells) during an action potential. The current carrried by ions as they permeate the pore of ion channels can also be measured - both at the single-channel level (single-channel current), as well as the macroscopic current resulting from the activity of a population of channels. As another example, electrical measurements may involve recording voltage changes at the surface of the skin that result from the activity of skeletal muscles (electromyogram, EMG), cardiac myocytes (electrocardiogram, ECG), or neurons in the brain (electroencephalogram, EEG).



Definition:
Refers to the ability of some cells to be electrically excited resulting in the generation of action potentials. Neurons, muscle cells (skeletal, cardiac, and smooth), and some endocrine cells (e.g., insulin-releasing pancreatic β cells) are excitable cells.

See also:
Resting Membrane Potential - Introduction



Definition:
Facilitated diffusion (or facilitated transport) is a form of passive transport across biological membranes and refers to carrier-mediated transport of molecules/ions down a concentration gradient. Facilitated transport is mediated by facilitative transporters (also referred to as uniporters).

See also:
Facilitated Diffusion



Definition:
Excretion of glucose in urine. This is indicative of an abnormal condition such as hyperglycemia caused by diabetes mellitus.



Definition:
Condition in which the plasma glucose concentration is abnormally high. In general, a fasting plasma glucose concentration higher than 110 mg/dL, or a postprandial plasma glucose concentration higher than 180 mg/dL is considered abnormally high.

Normal, fasting glucose concentrations range from 70 to 110 mg/dL.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hyperglycemic
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemic



Definition:
Hyperthyroidism refers to a pathophysiological condition in which the thyroid gland produces and releases abnormally high levels of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include high metabolic rate, weight loss, nervousness, excess heat production, tachycardia, and tremor.

Two main forms of hyperthyroidism exist: (1) Primary hyperthyroidism, and (2) Secondary hyperthyroidism.

In primary hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces high levels of the thyroid hormones, either as a result of a secretory tumor of the thyroid gland, or under the control of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (such as in Graves' disease).

Secondary hypothyroidism is caused by high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary gland. TSH then stimulates the thyroid gland to produce excessive amounts of the thyroid hormones.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Hypothyroidism
Euthyroidism



Definition:
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic and an antiarrhythmic drug. It is a commonly used local anesthetic for minor surgery and in dental procedures. Lidocaine is also used topically to relieve itching, burning, and pain from skin inflammations.

Lidocaine's mechanism of action is to block fast voltage-gated Na+ channels of neurons and cardiac myocytes.

Other names used for lidocaine are xylocaine and lignocaine.

See also:
Pharmacological Inhibition of Na+ and K+ Channels

Other resources:
Lidocaine (Wikipedia)



Abbreviation:
OAEs

Definition:
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are sounds that arise from the organ of Corti within the cochlea of the inner ear in response to sound stimulation. They are thought to result from vibrations of cochlear outer hair cells (OHC) in response to stimulation by sound. Otoacoustic emissions are inaudible to the human ear, but can be recorded by placing a small recording device in the external auditory meatus (ear canal).

Otoacoustic emissions have clinical diagnostic value and are measured as part of hearing exams. In the newborn, otoacoustic emissions are recorded in order to detect blockage in the middle ear cavity (e.g., as a result of fluid accumulation) or external ear canal.



Definition:
Ouabain binds to and inhibits the transport activity of the Na+/K+/ATPase (i.e., sodium pump).

Ouabain is plant derived and belongs to the class of drugs referred to as cardiac glycosides. Similar to other cardiac glycosides, ouabain increase heart muscle contractility. However, ouabain is used only experimentally and not in humans (as for example digoxin is for the treatment of congestive heart failure).

There is some evidence that ouabain may be produced endogenously in humans.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Vanadate

Other resources:
Ouabain (Wikipedia)



Abbreviation:
PCG

Definition:
A recording of the sounds produced by the heart during the cardiac cycle. The main sounds recorded are those associated with turbulent blood flow caused by the closure of heart valves.



Definition:
Pulse pressure is defined as the arithmetic difference between the systolic pressure (the highest blood pressure) and the diastolic pressure (the lowest blood pressure) recorded at any point along the vascular bed. Therefore:

Pulse pressure = Systolic pressure - Diastolic pressure

Pulse pressure values can be reported at any point along the vasculature starting from the left ventricle and aorta all the way to the vena cava and the right atrium. As with systolic and diastolic pressure values, pulse pressure is typically reported in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). A typical arterial pulse pressure is 40 mm Hg (120 - 80 = 40 mm Hg). This value decreases as one proceeds along the vascular bed from arteries to arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins. The most significant drop occurs along the arterioles.

See also:
Mean Arterial Pressure Calculator



Definition:
The relative refractory period refers to a period during the action potential. This is the time during which a stronger than normal stimulus is needed in order to elicit an action potential. The relative refractory period immediately follows the absolute refractory period.

Related glossary terms/phrases:
Absolute refractory period

See also:
Neuronal Action Potential - Refractory Periods



Definition:
The voltage difference across a cell plasma membrane in the resting or quiescent state. It is also simply referred to as the resting potential (Vrest). The value of the resting membrane potential varies from cell to cell. Depending on the cell type, it can range from −90 mV to −20 mV.

For example, Vrest is −90 mV in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells as well as in astrocytes. In a typical neuron, Vrest is approximately −70 mV. In many non-excitable cells, Vrest ranges from −60 to −50 mV. In photoreceptors, Vrest is about −20 mV.

See also:
Resting membrane potential



Definition:
Refers to the rapid depolarization of the membrane early in the action potential. In neuronal, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle action potentials, the Hodgkin cycle is responsible for the spike phase of the action potential.

See figure.

See also:
Important Features of the Neuronal Action Potential



Definition:
Removal of approximately a pint of blood in a manner similar to that for donating blood. The procedure is generally used as a simple measure to reduce the number of circulating red blood cells (e.g., to treat polycythemia) or to reduce the amount of circulating iron (e.g., to treat hemochromatosis). The procedure may be repeated as needed.

It falls under procedures referred to as phlebotomy (removing blood for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes) or bloodletting (removing blood for therapeutic purposes).









Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013
Last updated: Friday, August 28, 2015