Skip to Main Content


The human body and its ability to function proficiently depends highly on the principles of moving blood, nutrients, ions, oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2), metabolic by-products and waste, producing electrical gradients, and generating pressure differences. These principles are fundamental in the functioning of the cardiac, vascular, and pulmonary systems. However, in terms of physiology, the action at the cellular level of these organ systems allows for the transport, movement, and functioning of the systems in everyday life, activity, and exercise. In addition, the use of pharmacologic agents influences the movement of these systems when needed in instances of pathology and/or disease.

| Download (.pdf) | Print
Action potential The basis for nerve impulses when cell membrane reaches threshold potential.
Angina pectoris Chest pain related to ischemia of the myocardium.
Apnea Cessation of breathing after an expiration, interrupted by eventual inspiration, or it becomes fatal.
Atherosclerosis A disease of the arteries characterized by plaque deposits of fatty materials on the vessel’s inner walls.
Automatic rhythmicity Property of cardiac nodal tissue to self-excite, which leads to automatic action potentials and heart contraction.
Bradypnea Slow rate, shallow or normal depth, regular rhythm (as in drug overdose).
Chronotropy Changes or influences that increase or decrease heart rate.
Cor pulmonale Right-side heart failure due to pulmonary hypertension, causing acute and chronic pulmonary disease.

Adventitious breath sounds heard over areas of the lung where there are accumulated fluids or collapsed alveoli.

There is a partial reopening of the alveoli during inspiration.

Cyanosis Bluish coloration of the skin, tissues, or membranes.
Dead space Where air does not reach into the alveoli or airways within the lungs.
Dyspnea Shortness of breath.
Effective refractory period The time frame when tissue cannot generate additional incoming action potentials.
Eupnea Normal rate, depth, and rhythm of breathing.
Frank–Starling law The observation that increased stretching and preloading of the heart causes an increase in heart contractility.
Hemoptysis Presence of blood produced from coughing.
Hyperpnea Increased breathing due to increased depth, but usually not increased rate.
Ionotropy Changes or influences that increase or decrease heart contractility.
Orthopnea Shortness of breath caused by lying flat.
Oxygen diffusing capacity A measure of the rate at which oxygen can diffuse from the pulmonary alveoli into the blood.
Pulmonary ventilation The process of drawing air into and out of the lungs.
Perfusion Amount of blood flow to a given region.
Respiration The process of gas exchange with the atmosphere and cells of the body.
Shunt When blood does not flow to a region.
Sinus rhythm Any rhythm of the heart established by impulses from the SA node.
Stridor A high-pitched sound caused by obstruction of the larynx or trachea heard during inspiration and expiration.
Tachypnea Increased breathing rate, usually shallow with regular rhythm (as in restrictive lung pathologies).
Wheezing A music-pitch-like continuous sound heard due to narrowing in the airway.


Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.