Glossary

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Term Definition
Half-life

The amount of time it takes for the body to inactivate or metabolize half of a substance; a second half-life would decrease the remainder by half again, and so on.

Heinz Bodies

Precipitated hemoglobin that can be seen inside red blood cells under the microscope

Hemodialysis

A disorder similar to diabetes mellitus in that it causes symptoms such as increased thirst and increased urine production, but differing in cause, frequency, treatment, and associated complications; diabetes insipidus results from a lack of production of arginine vasopressin (also called antidiuretic hormone or ADH) by the pituitary or a lack of response of the kidneys to ADH, causing an inability of the kidneys to conserve water. It can lead to severe dehydration and high serum sodium if inadequately treated. Diabetes inspididus is a much more rare condition than diabetes mellitus.Also known as: Dialysis
A procedure that removes waste substances from the circulating blood; often performed on patients with kidney disease

Hemodialysis

Also known as: Dialysis
A procedure that removes waste substances from the circulating blood; often performed on patients with kidney disease

Hemoglobinopathy

A group of single gene disorders including structural hemoglobin variants (e.g., sickle cell hemoglobin) and the thalassemias

Hemolysis

Process by which red blood cells disintegrate, releasing their contents

Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn

A condition in which antibodies in a pregnant woman's blood cross the placenta and destroy her baby's red blood cells; develops when the mother and baby have differences in one or more blood group antigens

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Also known as: HUS

A life-threatening condition that may result from the breakdown (hemolysis) of a large number of red blood cells (RBCs) and damage to the kidneys (uremia). Most often it presents as a complication of an infection of the digestive tract caused by certain bacteria that produce a toxin that enters the bloodstream and destroys RBCs. This syndrome is most commonly associated with infections caused by shiga toxin-producing Eschericha coli (STEC), but may also result from infections caused by Salmonella and Shigella, other types of infections, and sometimes from non-infectious causes.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Also known as: HUS

A life-threatening condition that may result from the breakdown (hemolysis) of a large number of red blood cells (RBCs) and damage to the kidneys (uremia). Most often it presents as a complication of an infection of the digestive tract caused by certain bacteria that produce a toxin that enters the bloodstream and destroys RBCs. This syndrome is most commonly associated with infections caused by shiga toxin-producing Eschericha coli (STEC), but may also result from infections caused by Salmonella and Shigella, other types of infections, and sometimes from non-infectious causes.

Hemorrhage

1. bleeding; escape of blood, usually from injured blood vessels
2. excessive bleeding over a short period of time, either internally or externally; if uncontrolled, can lead to shock and death.

Hemorrhoid

Swelling of vein(s) in the lower part of the rectum or anus

Hemosiderosis

Abnormal deposition of an iron-containing compound (hemosiderin) in tissues, often associated with diseases in which there is extensive destruction of red blood cells (e.g., thalassemia)

Hemostasis

The stopping of bleeding or the flow of blood

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Also known as: HCC

Cancer that originates in the cells of the liver; this type of cancer may develop in those who have certain forms of cirrhosis or who have had a hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection; may develop years after initial infection.

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Also known as: HCC

Cancer that originates in the cells of the liver; this type of cancer may develop in those who have certain forms of cirrhosis or who have had a hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection; may develop years after initial infection.

Hereditary

Genetic; passed from parent to offspring

Heterophile Antibody

A human antibody that reacts with proteins from another species; may lead to innaccurate results in immunoassay tests; sometimes used to refer to antibodies associated with infectious mononucleosis

Heterozygous

Having two different copies of a particular gene, one of which may be abnormal

Hirsutism

Abnormal hairiness, especially an adult male pattern of hair distribution in a female

Human leukocyte antigens

Also known as: HLA


Group of proteins present on the surface of white blood cells (leukocytes) and other nucleated cells (containing a nucleus). These proteins help the body’s immune system to identify its own cells and to distinguish between “self” and “nonself.” Each person has an inherited combination of HLA antigens and, while not as unique as a fingerprint, the presence or absence of each antigen creates a distinctive HLA combination for each person. HLA antigens are divided into types: Class I (A, B, C) and Class II (DR, DP, DQ).

Hydrocephalus

A condition in which the chambers (ventricles) within the brain become enlarged due to an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid

Hydropic

Retaining excessive amounts of fluids

Hypercalcemia

Higher than normal calcium level in the blood

Hyperglycemia

Higher than normal glucose levels in the blood

Hyperinsulinemia

Elevated levels of insulin in the blood

Hyperkalemia

Higher than normal potassium levels in the blood

Hyperlipidemia

Higher than normal cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels in the blood

Hyperlipoproteinemia

Higher than normal lipoprotein levels in the blood

Hypernatremia

Higher than normal sodium levels in the blood

Hyperparathyroidism

A condition characterized by an overproduction of parathyroid hormone (PTH), a hormone that controls calcium and phosphate levels in blood and calcium in bone; it is made by the parathyroid glands. Primary hyperparathyroidism causes high calcium and low phosphate levels, and can cause kidney stones occasionally. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is caused by low levels of calcium or vitamin D, or high levels of phosphate; it is commonly caused by chronic kidney disease. Either form can cause osteoporosis or bone pain.

Hyperpituitarism

Condition caused by increased production of pituitary hormones

Hyperplasia

An increase in the number of cells in an organ, causing enlargement of that organ; this term most often refers to glandular organs, such as the prostate and the adrenal glands. Hyperplasia can produce problems related to a gland's larger size (as in benign prostatic hyperplasia) or excess functioning of the gland (as in adrenal hyperplasia).

Hypocalcemia

Lower than normal calcium level in the blood

Hypochromic

Paler than normal red blood cells

Hypofibrinogenemia

Low production of fibrinogen

Hypoglycemia

Lower than normal glucose levels in the blood

Hypogonadism

A condition associated with defective function of the gonads (ovaries in females, testes in males) resulting in little or no production of hormones

Hypokalemia

Lower than normal potassium levels in the blood

Hyponatremia

Lower than normal potassium levels in the blood

Hypoparathyroidism

A condition characterized by underactivity of the parathyroid glands and reduced production of parathyroid hormone (PTH), a hormone that controls calcium and phosphate levels in blood and calcium in bone. Symptoms may include tingling in the fingers and toes, muscle aches and spasms, fatigue, dry skin and brittle nails, headaches, anxiety, and depression.

Hypopituitarism

Condition caused by a decrease in or loss of production of pituitary hormones

Hypopituitarism

Condition caused by a decrease in or loss of production of pituitary hormones

Hypothalamus

Area of the brain located just above the brainstem that controls the pituitary gland and regulates many bodily functions, such as body temperature, hunger, thirst, sleep, and mood through the release of hormones

Hypoxia

Lack of oxygen

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