Questions about medicine and health in Swedish?

Hi everyone! I've been seeing that a lot of people are expressing interest in learning about how to talk about medicine and health in Swedish. Since I am a medical student, I thought could try to answer your questions, to the best of my abilities. I'm happy to answer questions both about health-related vocabulary, stuff related to our health system, education of MDs in Sweden - whatever you want essentially. It doesn't have to be specifically related to the language, but it could be about society as well. Ask away!

August 27, 2015


What are all the parts of the heart called in Swedish? And is there a word like "zombies" in Swedish?

August 27, 2015

First, I love that you are asking about zombies in a thread about health! You're thinking ahead. But yes, you can say zombie in Swedish, spelt the same but generally pronounced in a Swedish way ("såmbi"). Undead is odöd, seen in the title of the zombie novel Hanteringen av odöda by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Both book and author are amazing, check it out.

Now, the heart. Remember, this is what the words mean in the context of the heart's anatomy. They can mean other things outside of this context. We use a lot of Latin and Latin-derived terminology in Swedish, like in English.

  • (ett) hjärta - heart
  • (ett) förmak - atrium
  • (en) kammare - ventricle (lit. chamber)
  • (en) klaff - valve

  • höger förmak - right atrium

  • vänster förmak - left atrium
  • höger kammare - right ventricle
  • vänster kammare - left ventricle

  • pulmonalisklaffen - (the) pulmonary valve

  • aortaklaffen - (the) aortic valve
  • mitralisklaffen - (the) mitral valve
  • tricuspidalisklaffen - (the) tricuspidal valve

Here is a picture (not mine):

I have a sense that at least medical professionals are moving more towards Latinate vocabulary than the Swedish equivalent, maybe to be more international. The Swedish equivalents are still there to be able to communcate easier with patients, but we are actually not actively taught the Swedish vocab, which is kind of a shame in my opinion. Our lecturers mostly use plain Latin and our textbooks are in (Latinate) English. Thus for me as a student, I hear vena cava or cavavenen more than hålvenen, even though the latter might be more familiar to the general population.

August 27, 2015

Follow-up question: do you actually say e.g. hålvenerna or do you prefer venae cava?

Edit: Ah, nevermind, I didn't see the text below at first... Did you add it later? :)

August 27, 2015

Yeah, I added it later. I've never heard it in the plural actually, but I think the Latin would be preferred. Edit: I think it would actually be "venae cavae", if Wiktionary serves me right.

August 28, 2015

If doctors decline Latin as anyone else does, and they probably do, vena cava would be nominative singular (or ablative singular, venā cavā, but the macrons usually aren't written), and venae cavae would be nominative plural (and it is also genitive singular). FWIW :).

This is a GREAT thing to do by the way. Thanks so much. I've got the thread marked for when I finally will try to learn Swedish.

August 28, 2015

Yup, I typoed. Thank you both for the correction. :)

August 28, 2015

There are quite a lot of parts to an heart, you may want to specify unless you want a full list. I'll leave that to Joel in case I leave any out or confuse the Swedish and the Latin names, since I am not in medicine myself. I can however confidently say that we use the word zombie in Sweden as well. :)

August 27, 2015

There is actually a swedish word for zombie: "vandöd" but it's not used that much. I saw it in my local paper today though and was somewhat surprised, but then I looked it up and it checked out.

August 29, 2015

Close, but I'm afraid this is incorrect. A vandöd is simply an undead, so a zombie is a kind of vandöd but not necessarily the other way around.

August 29, 2015

Great idea! And if somebody has any questions about Swedish midwifery, I'll force my wife to answer.

August 27, 2015

That would be great! You can always provide so much more depth as a specialist in a field.

August 27, 2015

I am pretty sure that I will have no dictionary with me when I need one really badly. So, can you name some of the most common things that can happen during a trip to Sweden, please? Being able to say that I've catched a cold, sprained my ancle, feel sick, have an ache in my head, belly or tooth is way better than pointing with my index finger to wherever the problem is.

August 28, 2015

I've catched a cold - Jag har fått en förkylning / Jag har blivit förkyld

I've sprained my ankle - Jag har stukat foten

I feel sick - Jag mår illa (meaning nauseous) / Jag känner mig sjuk (meaning ill in general)

I have a headache - Jag har huvudvärk / Jag har ont i huvudet

I have a stomach ache - Jag har ont i magen / Jag har magont

I have a toothache - Jag har tandvärk / Jag har ont i tänderna

September 2, 2015

Tack så mycket! :-)

September 3, 2015

I think the medicine portion of the Swedish tree covers this pretty well :)

August 28, 2015

I am not that far by now.

August 28, 2015

I just finished up my physiotherapy placement in an acute care hospital, and although I have no questions at the moment, I am sure that I will at some point in the near future. Thanks so much for offering this :)

August 29, 2015
Learn Swedish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.