A woman displaying a range of emotions from shock disbelief and fear

Community Shares: The First Thought After Your Heart Failure Diagnosis

Nearly everyone remembers the first thought that popped into their head when their doctor first told them about their heart failure diagnosis. The types of thoughts – from fear to shock – vary from person to person.

To spark a conversation about what was running through people’s minds at the very beginning of this journey, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page and asked: “How did you react to your diagnosis?”

Nearly 200 community members shared, and here is what was shared.


It is natural for our minds to enter denial after the news of a heart failure diagnosis. For many people, especially those with no prior history of heart problems, the first thought was that this cannot be true. Sometimes we stay in the disbelief or denial stage for a while, but sooner or later, thoughts will shift.

“I was in denial at first. I thought the doctor was wrong on his diagnosis.”

“I think I was trying to process the diagnosis because it did not seem real.”

“It took a while for it to really sink in.”

Family history

For some people, the diagnosis did not come as a surprise – they long had a suspicion that something was wrong. The diagnosis only confirmed that thought. Plus, several community members shared that their families have a history of heart diseases, so they figured this might show up in their own medical charts.

“It was something I knew was inevitably hereditary. Although the family knew of the heart attacks, congestive heart failure was not something they acknowledged until 15 years later when the pacemaker and defibrillator were implanted.”

“It was not a shock. I knew something was up for years. My family history runs so deep with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and heart disease.”

Worst case-scenario

If you feared the absolute worst when you got the news of your heart failure, you are not alone. Many people think first about the worst possible outcome. However, with time, most people find out from research or from talking to the community that life goes on after a heart failure diagnosis.

“I thought it was a sure death sentence. This was 2 years ago.”


For some people, a heart failure diagnosis is overwhelming. They do not want to think about it all, and that is OK. It is fine to give yourself as much time as you need before talking to someone about it or getting more information from a doctor. It is your journey, and you can manage it however you like.

“The diagnosis made me want to shut down. I did not want to talk about it with anyone.”

Going to be okay

A few in the community shared that they knew as soon as they heard the heart failure diagnosis that they were going to be okay. Many saw that this diagnosis is not a death sentence. There can be many, many more years ahead. Plus, it is a gift to approach life with a positive outlook.

When someone can see the good and feel hopeful – as opposed to worrying – then there is much more enjoyment and contentment to be had every day.

“ER docs told my son and daughter-in-law that I was dying. Then they told me. I said, ‘No, I am not.’ Well, OK, maybe, but really slowly. It has been almost 10 years. I am doing pretty well, considering.”

“I just figured it is what it is. Let me get on with treatment and see how it goes. It has been 7 years, and so far, so good.”

Thank you to everyone who shared. We are so grateful to hear a variety of responses from the community.

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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