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Senior Health Glossary

Terms used to explain Senior Health can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Function: abbreviation
age-related macular degeneration


Pronunciation: \ˌant-ē-ˈäk-səd-ənt, ˌan-ˌtī-\

Function: noun
: any of various substances (as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and alpha-tocopherol) that inhibit oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen and peroxides and that include many held to protect the living body from the deleterious effects of free radicals


Pronunciation: \ˈkat-ə-ˌrakt\

Function: noun
: a clouding of the lens of the eye or its surrounding transparent membrane that obstructs the passage of light

Coronary Artery Disease

coronary artery disease
Function: noun
: a condition and esp. one caused by atherosclerosis that reduces the blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle and typically results in chest pain or heart damage —called also coronary disease, coronary heart disease

Free Radical

free radical
Function: noun
: an esp. reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons; esp: one that is produced in the body by natural biological processes or introduced from outside (as in tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants) and that can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure


Pronunciation: \glau-ˈkō-mə, glo-\

Function: noun
: a disease of the eye marked by increased pressure within the eyeball that can result in damage to the optic disk and gradual loss of vision

High-density Lipoprotein

high–density lipoprotein
Function: noun
: see: hdl


Function: noun
: deficient supply of blood to a body part (as the heart or brain) that is due to obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood (as by the narrowing of arteries by spasm or disease)

Low-density Lipoprotein

low–den*si*ty lipoprotein
Pronunciation: \ˈlō-ˈden(t)-sət-ē-\

Function: noun
: see: ldl


Pronunciation: \ˌprez-bi-ˈkyü-səs, ˌpres-\

Function: noun
pl -cu*ses
Pronunciation: \-ˌsēz\
: a lessening of hearing acuteness resulting from degenerative changes in the ear that occur esp. in old age


Pronunciation: \ˌprez-bē-ˈō-pē-ə, ˌpres-\

Function: noun
: a visual condition which becomes apparent esp. in middle age and in which loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye causes defective accommodation and inability to focus sharply for near vision

Trans Fat

trans fat
Function: noun
: a fat containing trans-fatty acids


Pronunciation: \(ˈ)trī-ˈglis-ə-ˌrīd\

Function: noun
: any of a group of lipids that are esters formed from one molecule of glycerol and three molecules of one or more fatty acids, are widespread in adipose tissue, and commonly circulate in the blood in the form of lipoproteins —called also neutral fat

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Did You Know?

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Older Americans are the least physically active age group, according to the Foundation for Health in Aging. Only about 20 percent of older adults are moderately active.