a man holds his helmet as he walks out of a firehouse on his last day

Community Views: The Career Impact of Heart Failure

Last updated: November 2021

Our careers are part of what defines us as individuals. When meeting someone new, one of the ways we identify ourselves is through our jobs. Chronic illness can derail careers. Living with heart failure creates challenges for working.

We asked the HeartFailure.net Facebook community to share with us, “Has your heart failure impacted your job or career path?”

Your responses highlight the difficulty of working with this disease.

Leaving a career

Many of you left a career you loved after being diagnosed with heart failure. The physical demands were too taxing on your heart. It was a choice between your health and your vocation. While you are grateful for each day, your sense of loss is palpable.

“I had to quit because 12 hours on my feet was putting a major hardship on my heart health.”

“It was the end of my job because I couldn’t pass the work physical.”

“I had to withdraw from school because I physically couldn’t finish my career path.”

“I had to quit working. No employer wants an employee who has to run to the bathroom every 10 to 15 minutes because of a water pill.”

Self-employment impact

When you are self-employed, changes to your health impact your business. Your productivity decreases when your health is poor. You cannot physically do as much in one day. Taking time off means losing clients.

“I’m a farrier (horseshoer) by trade. One year of not being able to work. I never recovered business-wise.”

“Self-employed farming. Heart failure changes you physically and mentally. All the things I used to take for granted, now you can’t do. I just can’t do a big portion of what was just a normal day.”

Early retirement

Taking early retirement is one way many of you exited careers. Emotionally you were not ready, but your body could not physically continue. Unable to meet the demands of your job, you stepped away.

“I retired a year early.”

“I was going to go back to work, but I just didn’t have the strength to work, so I retired.”


Going through the disability process is often necessary. It is frequently a lengthy undertaking. Many of you waited 2 or more years before being awarded disability. Waiting on disability is stressful. It also takes a financial toll being off work while waiting for disability approval.

“I have heart failure. I can’t work. I’m on disability. It took me 2 years to get it and a lawyer.”

“After damn near killing me, it forced me into disability retirement in my early 30s.”

“I had to take disability retirement 14 years ago. My doctor said if I continued to work, I would not survive.”

Work accommodations

A few of you continue in your careers. Your workplace has created accommodations for your health. Your duties look slightly different now, but you proceed with your job. You appreciate the ability to stay employed!

“Thankfully, my work has made many changes for me at my work, so that I can stay employed. I truly appreciate their kindness.”

“Was off for 6 months. I went back to work in metal fab last April. The only difference is I can’t do the real heavy stuff."

The shifting nature of a career feels very personal. It alters how you see and identify yourself. We appreciate the raw honesty of your responses. Thank you for trusting us with your stories.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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