A heart condition can refer to an umbrella of disorders affecting the heart, such as cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and heart attacks. Within the UK alone, 2.3 million people are living with coronary heart disease, while an estimated 1.5 million Britons are living with the after effect of a heart attack.
According to the NHS, there are around 5.4 million people in England who act as caregivers for loved ones living with a disease. Like with any chronic illness, you may know that being supportive and understanding is the best way to help care and comfort them.
However, do you know what you shouldn’t say to someone with a heart condition?
While people who are living with heart conditions can be subject to amplified mental, physical and emotional triggers throughout their day to day experiences, with thoughtful adjustments to their lifestyles, they are still fully capable of leading normal, happy lives –so don’t be quick to jump to assumptions!
Please continue reading to find out the 10 things not to say to someone with a heart condition, taken from a collection of personal opinions expressed by those living with heart
conditions throughout the online community.
- Wow! You look great! You look just the same!
“In the early days, that was a fairly typical greeting from those who had not seen me for a while. While some might assume that this is a thoughtful and flattering comment to offer a freshly-diagnosed heart attack survivor, many times it didn’t feel that way. Next time you approach someone with a heart condition, say instead “It’s great to see you!” … which is probably fairly accurate, feels pretty darned good to hear, and doesn’t elicit the “If you only knew…” reply that we’re silently muttering.” –Carolyn Thomas
- You know, someone in my family recently had a heart attack…
“Don’t start in on that endless story of your Uncle Stan and his much more interesting heart attack – those with heart conditions simply don’t care about other people’s medical drama at this moment.” –Heart attack survivor
- You have a pacemaker don’t you? That means you can’t fly doesn’t it?
“Generally, if your heart condition is well controlled and stable, you should have no difficulties with mild reductions in oxygen levels in an airplane, provided your symptoms are stable before you travel. If you have had a device (pacemaker, CRT, ICD) implanted then it will probably be detected by the security machines, but devices use standard technology and you will be able to have your device checked in most parts of the world if required.” –HeartFailureMatters
- You should really try this amazing herbal remedy for your condition…
“Don’t try and push any life saving miracle cures, products or supplements on us, particularly if you are selling them.” –ASweetLife
- Don’t look so down…cheer up!
“Don’t try to cheer us up if we’re having a bad day – we’re entitled to have a bad day once in a while – and if we do confess that we are having a bad day, do not under any circumstances say: “Well, at least YOU LOOK GOOD!” – unless you want a small metal canister of nitroglycerin hurled at your head.” –Carolyn Thomas
- It must be really difficult for you to keep working with your condition.
“In most cases, heart conditions can be adequately treated and controlled, allowing you to continue to work full time for many years. Your particular situation will depend on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as the demands of your job.” –HeartFailureMatters
- You don’t look sick.
“Not everyone “looks like” what is happening to them. You would never say “you don’t look like someone who is going through a terrible divorce” if your stressed out friend still manages to put on a brave face and pull themselves together. Not all illnesses are manifested outwardly. And chances are, on the days that you are seeing someone with a chronic illness, it is one of their better days because they are out at all. Everyone is going through some kind of struggle in their lives, and chances are, you can’t see it on the surface.” –Healthline
- You’ll need to get more exercise.
“Exercise is really important and no one is denying that. It helps pretty much any health condition. But it isn’t a cure-all. For someone like me, whose heart rate regularly reaches 120 bpm just from standing still, exercise isn’t always doable. I do “exercise” but it is more like physical therapy exercises than what most people would consider a good workout. But remember, everyone has limitations. For people with chronic illnesses, their physical limitations may make it harder for them to do traditional exercises.” –Heart attack survivor
- Driving after having a heart attack isn’t safe.
“Having a pacemaker will not prevent you from keeping your driver’s license. Most people with heart failure can safely drive a car. However, people who have a history of loss of consciousness or fainting due to an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) in general should talk to their doctor about their ability to drive. If you drive for a living, you’ll likely be required to have regular reviews of your condition.” –HeartFailureMatters
- You’re too young to have a heart condition.
“Although many people with heart failure are elderly, heart failure is not necessarily a part of the ageing process. Younger people can develop heart conditions as well. It should always be reinforced that heart conditions are very serious cardiovascular condition, but can be prevented –you can still have a fulfilling life!” –HeartFailureMatters