British Heart Foundation
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Shell Shocked

I am new here. Yesterday I was diagnosed with severe heart failure and am feeling shocked and scared. The consultant was extremely good at explaining things and was extra careful because I had had no obvious symptoms so no warning of what he was going to say. I am going to begin drug therapy and have a pacemaker fitted once the drugs have been gradually increased and assessed. I am also going to have an angiogram and an MRI. It is such a lot to take in. Today I can't remember details of what I was told!!! Is this a usual reaction?

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Yes, that is completely normal. The consultant will write to your GP. You could ask for a copy of that or get your GP to explain it to you. In future, whenever you see your GP or other medical professional, make a list of all the questions you have and be sure to ask them. Write down the answers at the time or a soon as possible afterwards.

Try not to worry. You are in good hands. People on here are very helpful. If you need more support you can call the BHF Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311. They have trained nurses you can speak to.

People who know more than me about heart failure will probably respond later on today.

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Thank you so much for that. I have noted the number.

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Hi Mirtle, welcome.

This sounds absolutely normal, so please don't worry about that! When you're diagnosed with a condition, it's so easy for your brain to stop being able to concentrate quite so readily on information that you're given. It's a tough thing to digest, and medical professionals will definitely be used to needing to explain things multiple times as it's so common for things not to totally sink in.

If we can help at all, either here on HealthUnlocked or maybe through the BHF helpline, remember you can contact us any time. If you'd like to speak to one of our cardiac nurses, it'd be well worth giving our helpline a ring. They'll be able to give you some information about heart failure and talk you through everything, step by step.

Here's a link in case you need it: bhf.org.uk/heart-health/how...

Take care and let us know if we can be of more help!

Jo, Team BHF

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Thank you for that Jo. I have made a card with the Helpline number on it so I have it to hand!

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It may be worth asking at your GP surgery if there is a Heart Failure Nursing service in your area which you could be referred to.

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Thank you Shopman. I will look into that tomorrow.

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Hi mirtle, in addition to this group there is a closed Facebook group called Pumping Marvellous which is for HF patients, carers & families. The group is run by the heart failure charity Pumping Marvellous. The group is brilliant for support & advice, highly recommend it, lots of people there of all ages who've been or have been in your position. My husband was diagnosed with HF 5 years ago after having heart problems since 1997, he's had an ICD fitted as he's high risk of sudden death. It is very scary at first but once the shock as worn off its easier to deal with & far less scary and with the right medication things aren't as bad as they first seem. Keep well xx

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Thank you Lezzers for being so encouraging.

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Hi Mirtle

I was in almost the same situation as you 4 years ago. I did have symptoms though, mainly angina, breathlessness and fatigue but I had no idea I was in heart failure. I would think you must have had some symptoms to have been referred to cardiology in the first place. I wasn't expecting to be told I had severe heart failure either so I can understand you being shocked and not remembering everything, I was the same. It will take a while for your brain to digest this news. It was on my mind constantly for weeks, probably because it was so unexpected and a huge shock. I was put of medication right away and I went to the Heart Clinic every 4-6 weeks. The clinic is run by some wonderful, knowledgeable nurses who gradually increased my medication until it reached optimal levels which took about eight months. I was then put on a short waiting list to have my pacemaker which is a CRT-D. The combination of medication and the device have improved my heart failure. I wish you luck and if you are unsure about anything or want reassurance please feel free to message me.

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Thank you for your helpful and encouraging response. I was due to have a gynecological op in April and as part of a pre op assessment I had an ECG done. As a result of this the op was postponed and I had an Echo. Then the op was cancelled and I was referred to cardiology so the diagnosis was a big shock especially the 'severe' part. I really did not have any symptoms I recognised. I am a bit calmer today so expect I will gradually get my head round it all!

This morning the postman brought me the date of an appointment with a heart failure nurse in June.

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