A number of cardiologists seem to be revisiting the warnings of their late colleague Dr. Bernard Lown, who often cautioned physicians against using “words that hurt“ – specifically, the name heart FAILURE * (what he termed “doom forecasting”). Imagine being a patient hearing for the first time the words, “You have heart FAILURE.” A terrifying – and worse, often inaccurate – name. I’ve been told that changing the name of this condition would be impossible. But a recent editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has suddenly offered a glimmer of hope.
When McMaster University cardiologist Dr. Harriette Van Spall asked her Twitter followers recently to offer topic suggestions for the upcoming Heart Failure Summit, I responded with a suggestion of my own:
“Please please please can we STOP calling this condition heart FAILURE?” .
Imagine your mechanic telling you that your brakes are failing. Would you voluntarily get behind the wheel of that car – and then happily drive it home? Of course you wouldn’t. Yet right now, as you are reading these words, doctors around the world in a medical office or hospital clinic somewhere out there are casually saying out loud the words “HEART FAILURE” to diagnose people who will leave that place feeling scared to death. . Continue reading “Would you drive your car if its brakes were “failing”?”