Glossary

Find definitions for thousands of medical terms, treatments, and tests -- even health-related abbreviations, prefixes, and suffixes.

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A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of blood vessels inside the body. It is a type of magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan. In many cases MRA can give information that cannot be seen from an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan.

MRA can find problems with the blood vessels that may be causing reduced blood flow. With MRA, both the blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel walls can be seen. The test is often used to check the blood vessels leading to the brain, kidneys, and legs. Information from an MRA can be saved and stored on a computer for more study. Photographs of selected views can also be made.

During MRA, the area of the body being studied is put inside an MRI machine. A dye (contrast material) is often used during MRA to make blood vessels show up more clearly.

Last Revised: June 13, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & George Philippides, MD - Cardiology

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.

In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.

For an MRI test, the area of the body being studied is placed inside a special machine that has a strong magnet. In some cases, a dye (contrast material) may be used during the MRI to show pictures of organs or structures more clearly.

Photographs or films of certain views can also be made. Information from an MRI can be saved and stored on a computer for more study.

MRI can be used to look for problems such as bleeding, tumors, infection, blockage, or injury in the brain, organs and glands, blood vessels, and joints.

Last Revised: May 16, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology

Malignant high blood pressure (malignant hypertension) is very high blood pressure that comes on suddenly and is an emergency. If not treated, it can damage the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys.

Quick-acting medicines are used to lower blood pressure.

The cause may be unknown, or the problem may be caused by medicine or another condition. Symptoms include numbness, blurry vision, chest pain, and confusion.

This problem is also called hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency.

Last Revised: April 4, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology

Mania is a persistently elevated, irritable, or elated mood. Mania occurs in some mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder. It also can result from diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, or develop as a side effect of some medicines, such as steroids or antidepressants.

Other characteristics of mania include:

  • Inflated self-esteem or unrealistic feelings of importance.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Talking more than usual.
  • Racing thoughts or being easily distracted by unimportant things.
  • An increased focus on reaching job or personal goals.
  • Involvement in irresponsible activities that might have dangerous consequences, such as engaging in increased sexual activity, making foolish business deals, or spending large sums of money.

Mania is usually treated with professional counseling and medicines, such as mood stabilizers. If mania is caused by a reaction to a medicine, it usually goes away when the person stops taking the medicine.

Last Revised: March 1, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry

Manual therapy (sometimes called bodywork) is a general term for treatment performed mostly with the hands. The goals of manual therapy include relaxation, decreased pain, and increased flexibility.

Manual therapy can include:

  • Massage. Pressure is applied to the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles. Massage can help relax muscles, increase circulation, and ease pain in the soft tissues.
  • Mobilization. Slow, measured movements are used to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint and help with flexibility and alignment.
  • Manipulation. Pressure is applied to a joint. It can be done with the hands or a special device. The careful, controlled force used on the joint can range from gentle to strong, and from slow to rapid.

Last Revised: January 30, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

Marfan's syndrome is an inherited disorder that causes problems in the connective tissues of the blood vessels, heart, and eyes, and affects the muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons. People with Marfan's syndrome tend to be tall and thin with long arms, legs, fingers, and toes.

Because of problems with their connective tissues, people who have Marfan's syndrome are at risk of:

  • Aortic heart valve problems, including aortic dissection.
  • Eye problems, such as dislocation of the lens of the eye, which can lead to a serious eye condition called glaucoma.
  • A sleep disorder in which a person regularly stops breathing (sleep apnea) because of weak muscles in the throat.

Treatment for Marfan's syndrome includes treating specific problems related to the connective tissue disease, such as heart problems.

Last Revised: November 2, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

Ménière's (say "men-YEERS") disease is a disorder of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance. It causes sudden attacks of vertigo (a spinning sensation), tinnitus (a loud ringing in the ears), and hearing loss that may be temporary or permanent.

It may also cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting that occur with vertigo.
  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear.

The cause of Ménière's disease is not known, but it may be related to a fluid imbalance in the inner ear.

Treatment includes medicines and sometimes surgery. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, salt, and stress may prevent attacks of vertigo.

Last Revised: April 12, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

A meniscus is a piece of cartilage (rubbery tissue) that acts as a shock absorber between bones and stabilizes the joints by evenly distributing the load across the joint area. Menisci (plural of meniscus) protect and cushion the joint surface and bone ends.

In the knee, the crescent-shaped menisci are positioned between the ends of the upper (femur) and lower (tibia) leg bones. The menisci protect the knee joint surface. And they absorb the shock produced by activities such as walking, running, and jumping.

Last Revised: September 10, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

A meniscus tear is damage to one of the rubbery discs that cushion your knee joint. It's usually caused by twisting your knee while your foot stays planted on the ground. It can be painful and keep your knee from working right.

Some tears will heal with rest and physical therapy. Others need to be repaired with surgery.

Last Revised: October 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

Menopause is the point in a woman's life when her ovaries stop producing enough hormones to keep the menstrual cycle going. It's sometimes called "the change of life." It usually happens around age 50, but every woman's body has its own timeline.

Some women go through menopause early because of cancer treatment or surgery to remove the ovaries.

Menopause is a natural part of growing older. You don't need treatment unless your symptoms bother you.

Last Revised: October 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions related to the body's metabolism. These conditions include excess body fat (particularly abdominal obesity); elevated triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar; and low HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).

Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin properly.

Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), even beyond that caused by high LDL cholesterol alone. Weight loss and increased physical activity can reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome.

Last Revised: May 22, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Metabolism refers to all of the chemical processes that take place in the body, such as the burning of sugars (glucose) for energy and the release of digestive enzymes to break down food. Metabolism results in growth, the elimination of waste products (in urine and stool), healing of wounds, and other necessary activities of the body.

Many things can affect the rate of metabolism, including exercise, diet, temperature, and hormones.

When problems occur with any of the normal metabolic processes, changes in the body can occur (such as diabetes or thyroid disease). Changes in metabolism can affect the entire body.

Last Revised: June 20, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

Some medical tests report results in micrograms (mcg). A microgram is one-millionth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in micrograms per liter (mcg/L).

  • A microgram is one-millionth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce.
  • A liter measures fluid volume. It is a little bigger than a quart.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

A microkat is a unit of measurement used in chemistry to describe enzyme reactions. A catalyst starts or speeds up a chemical reaction. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts in the body. A catalyst measures one katal if it causes a chemical reaction at one mole per second. A liter is a measure of volume that is a little more than a quart.

Some medical tests report results using microkats per liter (mckat/L).

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in micromoles per liter (mcmol/L).

  • A mole is an amount of a substance that contains a large number (6 followed by 23 zeros) of molecules or atoms. A micromole is one-millionth of a mole.
  • A liter measures fluid volume. It is a little bigger than a quart.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Migraines are throbbing headaches that last from 4 to 72 hours, usually on one side of your head. They may be triggered by certain foods or smells.

They may cause nausea and vomiting. And light may make the pain worse. Some people have an aura—like seeing wavy lines or flashing lights—before the headache starts.

Although migraines are painful, they can often be treated with pain medicines and sometimes with medicines to prevent the headaches.

Last Revised: October 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology

Some medical tests report results in milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L).

  • An equivalent is the amount of a substance that will react with a certain number of hydrogen ions. A milliequivalent is one-thousandth of an equivalent.
  • A liter measures fluid volume. It is a little bigger than a quart.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in milligrams (mg). A milligram is one-thousandth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL).

  • A milligram is one-thousandth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce.
  • A deciliter measures fluid volume that is 1/10 liter. A liter is a little bigger than a quart.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in milligrams per liter (mg/L).

  • A milligram is one-thousandth of a gram. A gram is about 1/30 of an ounce.
  • A liter is a little bigger than a quart of fluid.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in milliliters (mL). A milliliter measures fluid volume. It is equal to one-thousandth of a liter. A liter is a little bigger than a quart. A milliliter is also called a cubic centimeter (cc).

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Pressure is measured in millimeters (mm) of mercury (Hg). A special unit that measures pressure shows how high a column of mercury rises.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

Some medical tests report results in millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

  • A mole is an amount of a substance that contains a large number (6 followed by 23 zeros) of molecules or atoms. A millimole is one-thousandth of a mole.
  • A liter measures fluid volume. It is a little bigger than a quart.

Last Revised: May 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine

The mitral valve separates the left upper chamber (left atrium) and left lower chamber (left ventricle) of the heart. The mitral valve is formed from two downward-facing flaps.

When the heart pumps, blood forces the flaps open, and blood flows from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Between heartbeats, the flaps close tightly so that blood does not leak backward through the valve.

Last Revised: November 18, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common condition in which the mitral valve between the left upper chamber (left atrium) and left lower chamber (left ventricle) of the heart does not function properly. In most people, mitral valve prolapse does not cause any symptoms, usually does not cause any health problems, and does not require treatment.

In mitral valve prolapse, the valve flaps bulge (prolapse) upward into the left atrium rather than closing smoothly as the heart contracts. In rare cases, blood may leak backward through the prolapsed valve into the atrium. This condition is called mitral valve regurgitation.

Last Revised: January 23, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology

Mitral valve regurgitation (MR) is the leaking or backflow of blood through the valve between the upper left heart chamber (atrium) and the lower left heart chamber (ventricle). If serious, this condition can lead to a backup of blood in the left atrium and the lungs, cause enlargement of and damage to the left ventricle, and lead to heart failure.

Mitral valve regurgitation can either be ongoing (chronic) or sudden (acute). Chronic MR develops slowly, possibly over decades, and symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the feet and ankles, may never appear. Acute MR is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment to repair or replace the mitral valve.

Treatment for MR includes medicines for symptoms and eventually surgery to repair or replace the valve.

People who have mitral valve regurgitation may be at higher risk of heart valve infection (endocarditis) especially if they have an artificial heart valve.

Last Revised: November 29, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

Mitral valve stenosis is a heart condition in which the mitral valve—which regulates blood flow on the left side of the heart—fails to open as wide as it should. Although it has no immediate effect on health, eventually mitral valve stenosis can cause the left atrium to work harder to pump blood through the narrowed valve, leading to heart failure and complications such as stroke, heart rhythm problems (such as atrial fibrillation), fluid buildup in the lungs, and blood clots.

Symptoms usually do not develop for 10 to 20 years and may take as long as 40 years to be noticed. Early symptoms, such as shortness of breath with exertion, are often mild and hard to distinguish from other forms of heart disease. In the later stages of mitral valve stenosis, blood may back up into the lungs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and pounding of the heart.

Treatment for mitral valve stenosis depends on whether symptoms are present and how much the mitral valve has narrowed. Close monitoring is usually all that's needed for those who have mild or no symptoms. But if symptoms and severe narrowing are present, a doctor may recommend surgery to repair or replace the valve.

Last Revised: November 18, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

Difficulty breathing can occur when the body's lungs or heart are not working well.

Moderate trouble breathing means:

  • It's hard to talk in full sentences.
  • It's hard to breathe with activity.

Severe trouble breathing means:

  • You cannot talk at all.
  • You have to work very hard to breathe.
  • You feel like you can't get enough air.
  • You do not feel alert or cannot think clearly.

Last Revised: December 21, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD

Aerobic fitness means increasing how well the body uses oxygen, which depends on the condition of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Experts tend to describe aerobic activity in three ways: light, moderate, and vigorous.

When people do moderate-intensity activities, they notice a faster heartbeat. To get the benefits of moderate activity, a person can:

  • Walk briskly.
  • Cycle briskly (10 to 12 miles per hour [mph]).
  • Shoot baskets.
  • Play golf without using a cart.
  • Sail or windsurf.
  • Ballroom dance.
  • Swim leisurely.
  • Mow the lawn (but don't use a riding mower).
  • Sweep floors, vacuum, or mop.

The goal of aerobic fitness is to increase the amount of oxygen that goes to the heart and muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activities, including many kinds of daily activities, that raise the heart rate and keep it up for an extended period of time can improve aerobic fitness. If the activities are done regularly and long enough, they can help improve fitness.

Experts recommend that adults try to do moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. Or they can do vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. People can choose to do one or both types of activity. And it's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout the day and week. Teens and children (starting at age 6) should do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.

Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Last Revised: October 25, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science

Mononucleosis, or "mono," is a common illness caused by a virus. It's often seen in teens and young adults. It can cause a bad sore throat, swollen neck glands, and fever. Some people feel tired and weak for weeks or months after getting sick.

Mono usually goes away on its own, but rest and good self-care can help you feel better. Mono is nicknamed "the kissing disease" because that's one way the virus is spread. If you have mono, don't kiss anyone or share things like drinking glasses, eating utensils, or toothbrushes.

Last Revised: October 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Multiple myeloma (plasma cell neoplasm) is a rare type of cancer that results in the uncontrolled production of one type of white blood cell (plasma cell) in the bone marrow. The cancer cells can crowd out normal blood cells, causing a reduction in red blood cells (anemia).

The overproduction of plasma cells causes an increase in antibodies. The plasma cells also may cause the bone to break down. The plasma cells can collect in the bone to make small tumors called plasmacytomas.

The most common symptoms of multiple myeloma include night sweats, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, bone pain, pneumonia, numbness, paralysis, or kidney failure. If the bones of the spine are involved, they may collapse. This causes spinal cord compression.

The exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known. It is slightly more common in men than in women. And it is usually diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70. The disease is very rare before the age of 40.

Multiple myeloma is usually treated with chemotherapy to reduce the numbers of abnormal plasma cells, antibiotics to help fight infection, and pain medicine. Radiation therapy may be used to treat bone masses.

Last Revised: December 14, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

Multiple sclerosis, often called MS, is a disease that gradually destroys the protective covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This can cause problems with muscle control and strength, vision, balance, feeling, and thinking.

MS has no cure, but medicines may help lower the number of attacks and make them less severe.

Last Revised: October 9, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

Muscle fitness means having muscles that can lift heavier objects or muscles that will work longer before becoming exhausted. Muscle fitness improves when a person does activities that build or maintain muscles (strength) or that increase how long a person can use his or her muscles (endurance).

Activities like weight lifting, push-ups, or leg lifts can improve muscle fitness. As muscle fitness increases, most people notice that they can carry heavy grocery bags more easily, pick up children without feeling as much strain, or carry heavy items longer before getting too tired to continue. Having stronger muscles also protects the joints.

Muscles become stronger through a three-step process:

  1. Stress
  2. Recovery (rest)
  3. Repeated stress

When a person exercises against resistance, the muscles are stressed slightly but not to the point of serious damage or injury. When the person rests, the body rebuilds the muscles and the connective tissues between them (joints, tendons, and ligaments) in a way that prepares them for the next time they will be stressed. When the same muscles are stressed again, the process is repeated, and the muscles gradually become stronger.

Many experts suggest that adults do 8 to 10 muscle-fitness exercises at least 2 days each week. It’s best to allow at least 1 day of rest between these exercises. A person can achieve the best results by using a resistance (such as a dumbbell) that tires out the muscles after 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.

To increase muscle fitness, a person can do:

  • Basic muscle-conditioning exercises, such as push-ups, leg lifts, sit-ups, squats, and lunges.
  • Resistance training with rubber tubing or stretchable bands.
  • Weight training with free weights (dumbbells) or weight-training equipment.
  • Housework and yard work, such as scrubbing the bathtub, washing walls, or pulling weeds.

Anyone who starts an exercise program should talk to a doctor first to see if it’s safe.

Last Revised: October 25, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science

Muscular dystrophy is a rare inherited disease of the nerves and muscles that occurs mostly in males. The most common type of muscular dystrophy causes rapid muscle wasting and progressive weakness early in life, usually between the ages of 2 and 5.

Muscle wasting begins in the shoulder and pelvic areas. Fat and connective tissue may grow into muscles and cause abnormal enlargement (hypertrophy), especially in the calf muscles of the legs. Within several years muscular dystrophy affects the muscles of the upper body and arms. Eventually all the major muscles are affected.

There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Treatment involves controlling symptoms.

Last Revised: June 27, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Myocarditis may occur after a viral, fungal, or bacterial infection, such as diphtheria, rheumatic fever, or tuberculosis.

Treatment for myocarditis includes evaluation and treatment of the cause of the inflammation. Treatment may require use of antibiotics, if a bacterial infection is the cause, and medicines to relieve pain and inflammation. Lifestyle changes, including increased rest and a low-salt diet, may be part of the treatment.

Last Revised: April 26, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

Myoglobin is a protein found in heart tissue and other muscles. It helps trap oxygen in the muscle cells so that the muscles can work properly.

Myoglobin levels in the blood rise after a serious injury, such as a heart attack or a burn. An increased level helps to diagnose a heart attack.

Strenuous exercise, an injury to a muscle, or a shot into the muscle can cause myoglobin levels to go up. High levels can also be caused by heavy alcohol use. Myoglobin levels also are high in people who have kidney failure, because myoglobin is removed from the blood by the kidneys.

Last Revised: August 5, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & George Philippides, MD - Cardiology