Heart Failure Advice – NYHA Classifications

Heart Failure ExplainedHeart Failure Advice – NYHA Classifications

Nick Hartshorne-Evans CEO and Founder of the Pumping Marvellous Foundation shares some advice to those diagnosed with Heart Inefficiency (Heart Failure).

Setting your SAT NAV

Being told you have an inefficient heart (heart failure) sets your head racing as to where your condition will take you. In my experience, it is important to know some basics before you set personal goals on how you’re going to conquer and effectively self-manage your condition.
When I mention goals, these are not achievements to be measured by others, the measuring should come from yourself. 
I set the following goals:-

1) To get back to some form of normality.
2) Have a fearless yet measured attitude to life.
3) Demonstrate to my family that things can be okay. Okay can also be different!

As you can see these goals are particularly hard to measure but I knew within myself that I was starting to achieve them. There is no secret to ‘how’ I did this, it falls down to whether you want it or not.


I was diagnosed with acute heart failure back in 2010 and before then I did not really compartmentalise anything associated with my well-being – it was just put it in gear and let’s get on with it. Being put under the spell of “you have heart failure”  made me think differently around how I apply my thoughts and actions. 

I found I needed belief, the right attitude and some knowledge. Personally these three words work for me because;-
Belief – If you don’t believe in yourself then nobody else will!
Attitude – You need a lot of this, an attitude to win!
Knowledge – When you have an inefficient heart some of the right knowledge is very powerful.
These three words helped me structure my approach to my diagnosis and in essence set my Sat Nav!.
So before you set your Sat Nav you need to find some words that are going to underpin your life going forward.
A good place to start when building your knowledge is the New York Heart Association classification (below). The NYHA Classification is a scale that is based on observations, in other words how you feel, so you can work through this with your clinician. In fact your clinician can’t effectively classify you without talking to you, so give them good information to work with.
Heart failure sufferer’s symptoms are classified into standardised categories called the NYHA (New York Heart Association) heart failure classification:-
NYHA I – No limitation of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause undue tiredness, palpitations, or shortness of breath.
NYHA II – Slight limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in tiredness, palpitations, or shortness of breath.
NYHA III – You are comfortable at rest, but less than ordinary activity causes tiredness, palpitations, or shortness of breath.
NYHA IV – You are unable to carry out any physical activity without discomfort and are tired and short of breath even at rest. If any physical activity is undertaken, discomfort is increased.
Ask your clinician which NYHA level they think you are, couple that with knowledge from the Pumping Marvellous Foundation with a sprinkle of belief and attitude then you will know what to do.
As a person with this condition I can assure you that some knowledge is a good thing!
This swings in the face of the contrary belief that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. BUT and it’s a big but you just need knowledge of yourself and your condition, leave the clinical stuff to the doctors and nurses because if you are in control and have the right frame of mind then this will act as a good platform for you to manage your symptoms.
Nick Hartshorne-Evans
CEO Pumping Marvellous

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