Day 1178: What is heart failure?

Yesterday, I asked the blogging question

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

Today, I ask the blogging question

What is heart failure?

Please do not fail to take a moment to answer that question, in your own heart.

My heart  tells me there are many definitions of heart failure. Indeed,  I did not fail to find this definition of heart failure online:

Heart failure: Inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it and, specifically, failure of the heart to pump blood with normal efficiency. When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. Heart failure may be due to failure of the right or left or both ventricles. The signs and symptoms depend upon which side of the heart is failing. They can include shortness of breath (dyspnea), asthma due to the heart (cardiac asthma), pooling of blood (stasis) in the general body (systemic) circulation or in the liver’s (portal) circulation, swelling (edema), blueness or duskiness (cyanosis), and enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart.

Until today, my heart has failed to tell you about this heart-felt exchange with one of my heart doctors, Dr. Estes, last week:

Dr. Estes: I think you’re in Class 2 heart failure.

Me:  I don’t believe you. Maybe Class 1.  MAYBE.

Dr. Estes:  Well, there’s a grey area between Class 1 and Class 2.

Are you surprised at my heart’s failure to

  • report about that conversation before today or
  • accept Dr. Estes’s opinion?

My heart has such an unusual structure that nine out of ten doctors fail to agree about its failures and its successes. And I find that thinking in terms of failure — for my heart or for anything else — does not help me survive or succeed.

My heart will not fail to provide you with a definition of Class 1 and Class 2 heart failure, here and now:

Class I

No limitation of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, palpitation (feeling heart beats), or dyspnea (shortness of breath).

Class II

Slight limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation, or dyspnea.

Again, my heart expresses this:  I believe my heart is not failing me. I feel comfortable during all ordinary physical activities, except climbing stairs. And, I have no swelling, blueness, or duskiness, EVER. I do have some enlargement of the upper part of my heart, because of my leaky valve.

Also,  I have an amazing team of heart doctors, committed to helping my heart not fail.

My heart will not fail to express this, either:

I think the term “heart failure” is a failure of the heart because it is WAY too frightening.   My heart-felt suggestion:  stop using “heart failure,” replacing it with a more heart-successful term, like “heart struggle.”

Do you see any heart struggles in my heart-felt pictures from yesterday?




Please do not fail to express what is in your heart, below.

Heart-felt and successful thanks to all who helped me create this heart-struggling post and to you — of course! — for not failing to read it.

Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 58 Comments

Post navigation

58 thoughts on “Day 1178: What is heart failure?

  1. A heartfelt post, lovely and full of deep breathing. Stay well Ann.

  2. My brother had a heart that struggled for years. He used it to love too deep and to live without care. In the end it had enough and it was time for a new one. He opted out of that choice and just moved along as if his struggle didn’t exist until it stopped. His heart didn’t “fail” it lived a good life. Ignorance is truly blissful.

  3. Sally Colacicco

    “The most fearless hearts, the audacious dreamers, have always maintained a sense of optimism that often flies in the face of the available evidence.” Martin O’Malley
    XX Sally

  4. I’d stay with the term “heart struggle”. That sounds a lot better to me. 💖

  5. Good information and heartfelt. I prefer to call it heart struggle. I hope you stay well, Ann. Have a lovely day.

  6. My chronic heart failure has become stage 3 heart failure. Heart failure is too final – I say my heart beats inefficiently for my physical needs

    • Our hearts beat as one, Vicki. Heartfelt thanks for visiting here today and sharing what’s in your heart. ❤

  7. My heart tells me you know what your heart is doing. I say your heart is excelling. Have a heart-excelling day my friend!!!

  8. Micki Allen

    I hate the word “failure.” As Vicki pointed out, it seems too final, almost as if the battle is futile somehow. Struggle sounds more appropriate. I just remind myself that, in the celestial words of Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On.”

  9. At first I was terrified by the idea that you had any kind of heart failure. “Heart struggle” does sound much better, but I went to a thesaurus in search of potential alternatives and one that came up was “fracas”. I think it would be a relief to think of your heart in a Class 1 fracas. Or even Class 2.
    Either way your heart has class.

  10. Krystal

    FWIW, my grandmother had HF for the last 20 years of her life (68-88). She lived in Mexico City (~7500 ft. elevation) where oxygen is in short supply for everyone. She traveled on public transportation daily—she was a restless soul who reminded me of that song “ain’t nothing gonna slow me down…oh, no, oh no gotta keep on movin'””Not only did HF not slow her down, it was not what she ultimately died of, so I know that it is very possible to live with it. My brother also has it now, and has for several years, and is doing fine with it. I know your situation has its own very special and unique characteristics, but I waned to share some heart failure “success” stories.

  11. Maureen

    Today’s post has taken me by surprise. I’m not quite sure what I want to say. I have to think about it for a while. In the meantime, I’m sending a virtual hug your way.

  12. jwoodruf2015

    ?????–I’ll talk to you about this tomorrow Jan

    Janet S. Woodruff RN, BSN Healthcare Associates BIDMC ________________________________________

  13. Your heart is first class, Ann!

  14. Having been rushed to the hospital for what may have been “heart failure,” I wholeheartedly agree that heart struggle is better. Their results were inconclusive as to if I had a heart attack or not. That’s why heart failure sounds too dramatic to me.

  15. I think you’re right about heart struggle. I have an aunt whose heart has not been failing for about 15 years. It is struggling a bit though. I think the turtle could be contemplating failure. I hope the best for your heart.

  16. I like the idea that our hearts are doing the best they can. Some struggle more than others and they need some help.
    Thank you for this heart felt and touching post Ann. From my heart to yours 💕

  17. I agree with swapping out failure for struggle- it sounds more positive, hopeful, failure has such a permanent feeling to it, such negativity. How about persevering heart? That’s my heartfelt 2 cents. ❤

  18. I could never believe in your heart failing.

  19. I would say hard working heart than any of these definitions. That refers to physical heart but your heart is going so well.

  20. Maria

    Was there something he was trying to tell you? It doesn’t sound like you have changed recently?!?

    • Dr. Estes always tends to be more conservative and concerned. I think he was trying to tell me he is looking out for me.

    • I also think there was some hope that my heart would respond better to last May’s surgery, Maria. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

  21. You have a big heart, Ann

  22. Pingback: Day 1179: Mind blowing | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  23. Carol Ferenc

    Your heart may struggle, Ann, but it’s one of the most beautiful hearts I know.

  24. Barbara

    Your heart is too full of love and compassion to be a fail-ure.

  25. Pingback: Day 1183: The positive and the negative | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  26. Pingback: Day 1295: What is heart failure (part 2)? | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  27. Pingback: Day 2033: Good Bye | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  28. Pingback: Day 2255: Trust your crazy ideas | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  29. Pingback: Day 2627: Heads and Hearts | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: