Denial is the first reaction we have to danger. Denial is a normal reaction to danger. We want to block it out, pretend to ourselves that the danger does not exist. We block out the danger and its consequences. 

It is common for people experiencing heart attack symptoms to try to convince themselves “there is nothing wrong, it is only indigestion, a chest infection, muscular discomfort etc”. We do not want to accept that we could be experiencing a life threatening situation. Many heart attack victims experience symptoms for a long period with out taking action. This is a very dangerous course of action.

Very frequently it is a partner, friend, colleague that takes the necessary action of calling an ambulance. 

Denial can be a way of warding off our feeling of fear and provide us with some comfort. For heart patients it is dangerous. In many cases urgent attention is needed. Not calling for help quickly can have serious consequences. Because of this it is necessary for heart patients to understand heart symptoms and not be afraid, embarassed or hesitant to call for help.


Denial is dangerous for heart patients as it causes delay in getting the medical attention required to prevent major damage to our heart.


Denial behaviours

  • ignoring symptoms
  • delaying action
  • not calling an ambulance
  • insisting symptoms have other causes
  • laughing it off
  • keeping quiet
  • testing oneself by extreme physical exertion

Denial Examples

Going to work when experiencing chest pains.

Taking large amounts of indigestion medication with no results

Arguing with themselves that it could not be a heart problem because….I am too young….I am too fit…I am not overweight…I am female etc. etc.

Arguing that the medical profession don't know anything anyway so why bother.

I am too busy!

Heart symptoms should NEVER be ignored.

Further Information

(More details of heart attack symptoms can be found on The Heart Foundation Website (

© Len Gould 2019 Heartemotions (Version V210118)