URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/medwords/intro1.html

Introduction—Part 1 of 2


What did the doctor say?

Do you ever feel as if you and your doctor weren't speaking the same language? Sometimes even words that you think you understand can have a different meaning to your doctor.

For example: heart attack.

Your uncle experienced the symptoms of what you understand to be a heart attack, including:

  • racing heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • passing out

Your uncle's heart stopped beating! Luckily, the emergency responders used CPR and revived him.

Later when you're talking to the doctor, you say how glad you are that he survived his heart attack. The doctor says, "He didn't have a heart attack. He had a cardiac arrest; but no muscle damage." What does the doctor mean?

What is going on? To you, a heart attack means the heart doesn't beat. To the doctor, a heart attack means there is damage to the heart muscle.

Another example: fever. You take your child's temperature and it is 99.5 degrees. You call the doctor and say your child has a fever of 99.5 degrees. She says, "That's not a fever." What does she mean?

What is going on? To you, a fever is anything above 98.6 degrees. To the doctor, a fever is a temperature over 100.4 degrees. You and your doctor sometimes are speaking a different language; but using the same words.