Health: Abbreviations, acronyms, and commonly confused terms

AACE: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

ADA: Can be American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Dental Association. Spell out on first reference to ensure it is clear to the reader which organization you’re referring to.

Alternative medicine: Any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula of the United States and Britain.

AMI: Acute myocardial infarction, commonly known as a sudden and serious heart attack. (See MI.)

BMI: Body mass index. This equation gives a numerical rating of health based on height and weight. As the number increases, so does the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Body-fat percentage: A measurement, either through the skin-fold method or bioelectrical impedance analysis, to determine a person’s body fat percentage.

BRCA1/BRCA2: Both are genes in which mutation can contribute to breast or ovarian cancer.

Chronic: Can mean long-lasting, continuous, or recurrent. (Recurrent diseases are understood to relapse with periods of remission in between episodes or courses.)

COOL: Country-of-origin labeling. This U.S. law, signed in 2002, requires grocery stores, supermarkets, and club warehouse stores to notify customers where certain foods originate.

CPR: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This lifesaving technique is used when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. It involves chest compressions combined with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing.

CT scan: Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A series of X-ray views are taken from many angles. They are combined to produce cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues in the body.

DASH diet: Dietary approaches to stop hypertension. This eating plan is for people with high blood pressure or prehypertension. It is rich in whole grans, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.

DRI: Dietary reference intake. These are called NRI, nutrient reference values, in other countries.

DV: Daily value on nutrition panels, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. (See also RDA and RDI; there are large and small differences among these three recommendations and it is extremely important to label them correctly.)

ECG: Another name for an EKG. (See EKG.)

Echo: Short for echocardiogram. The ultrasound test uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart.

EKG: Electrocardiogram. This procedure measures the electrical activity of the heart through small electrode patches attached to the skin of the chest, arms, and legs.

FAST: An acronym used to help people determine if someone is having a stroke.
F (Face)—Does one side of the face droop?
A (Arms)—Ask the person to raise both arms and see if one drifts downward.
S (Slurred speech)—Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and see if the words are slurred.
T (Time)—If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911, or get to the hospital fast.

HDL: High-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol. High levels seem to protect against heart attack by carrying cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. In copy, refer to this as HDL (good) cholesterol.

IU: International units. It is a measure for vitamins.

JDRF: Formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; now just JDRF.

LDL: Low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. Too much in the blood can slowly build up in the inner walls of arteries that feed the heart and brain, forming a thick, hard deposit called plaque that can narrow and harden arteries. In copy, refer to this as LDL (bad) cholesterol.

MI: Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack. (See AMI.)

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging. The technique uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body.

NIDDK: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

RDA: Recommended daily allowance. (See also DV and RDI; there are large and small differences among these three recommendations and it is extremely important to label them correctly.)

RDI: Recommended dietary intake. (See also DV and RDA; there are large and small differences among these three recommendations and it is extremely important to label them correctly.)

TIA: Transient ischemic attack. It often is called a mini stroke. Blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced, often by a blood clot. After a short time, blood flows again and the symptoms go away. A TIA is considered a warning that you are likely to have a stroke in the future.

UL: Tolerable upper-intake level. This is a measurement of the highest average daily nutrient intake level that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects.

 


 

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