At level 40, I always aimed for at least 10k HP on any character I had.
My 38 wizard currently has 9.5k HP and my barbs (died a few times) always had ALOT more due to the fact that vitality gives them defense.
Upgrade your HP by ALOT. You'll want at least 10k and probably 12-14k.
str and vit all your items, if it hasnt got that combo, you dont need it!! upgr all your gems, look for max sockets in all your items!! dont get attached to your items, thereis always something better, so look out for it
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Diii: Classix#2766; Daanlandjnr 60 baba Act2 Inf; DrDaanland 50 WD Act4 Hell; FApSsoso WZ Act1 Norm ~HardcoreClassic for Life ~~Clan LeFAp ~ HcC Europe since Beta Jul '96~ GarGanTuaN highest d2 beta maul baba Supporter of GERBarb, first 99 char ever; Team player of GerMania first 99 sorc classic softcore 1.06 jojo_LeFAp 93 necro HcC EU 1.08; jojojo_LeFAp 95 necro HcC EU 1.08; Daanland_LeFAp 94 s/s baba HcC EU 1.08
first of all, are you certain you arent under level curve? It may be reason for some of the problems (worse armor values and so on).
Secondly, if you find it difficult/too much damage, try using shield with vit / socket (for even more vit). Also, use CDs like:
1) Ignore Pain with 7 sec rune
2) Shout of More Armor (20% or if you are 32/33+ 40% armor)
3) Leap with +300% armor
Overall, my barb build for hardcore (bear in mind that i was running with 100+ exp/ +19% exp since level 15) is as follows: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/calculator/barbarian#bXSVkP!cbV!aaZ.a
rune on revenge is up to you, you might even consider switching revenge for IP i mentioned before. Also i swap cleave for frenzy/sidearm for boss fights and atm im testing running with it all the time.
I understand that such build isnt the best for your DPS, but HC is not about killing shit really fast With such spec im leaving quite big margin of error/lagzord so that if I fail much (engaging 2 rare packs at once by accident) I won't die.
Lastly, DPS also matters, so try to get yellow weapon 40+ DPS socket/str/vit - on EU AH i saw one like it for ~5000.