Harvard Heart Letter

Balancing hope and reality in heart failure

Hope is a powerful force. It can sustain you through personal tragedy or carry you through the dark tunnel of disease. A sense of realism matters, too, grounding hope before it flits into fantasy.

Striking a balance between the two is important for anyone with cancer, heart failure, or other potentially life-shortening diseases. Hope begets a positive mental attitude, which fuels the drive to fight back. Untethered by reality, though, hope can become false hope or blind faith that everything will turn out fine. That can lead to futile treatments or missing the chance to plan a final good-bye.

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