The article “Depression in Patients With Heart Failure: Prevalence, Pathophysiological Mechanisms, and Treatment” by Thomas et al (April 2008:40–55) thoroughly outlined the deleterious effects of depression on heart failure, including neurohormonal activation, hypercoagulability, autonomic neurocardiac dysfunction, and proinflammatory cytokines.

As healthcare providers, we must ask ourselves what we can do to not only treat depression, but also to prevent it. Language is compelling; the words we choose can shape perceptions and feelings of hope or despair. Also, words used by health-care providers can have different meaning for laypeople. Now is the time for the language of heart failure to change.

Laypersons and healthcare professionals have drastically different definitions of failure. The meaning of heart failure has changed over the years in the medical community. Definition 1 in the 18th edition of Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary1 is “a cessation of the heartbeat.” Definition 2 from the 18th edition is, “A...

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