Running in rhythm: Guest post by Marcus McCleery

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Many of you may already know my heart story: how I went through two electrophysiology ablation surgeries to correct my atrial fibrillation, and how that experience not only helped me to regain my health but also inspired me to care for my heart and this wonderful technology that fixed it!

The days, months and years leading up to my eventual surgeries were dark, to say the least. At nearly 400 pounds, I was unhappy about nearly every aspect of my life. I constantly wondered if there was still hope for a healthier me. Enter Minneapolis Heart Institute and Dr. Katsiyiannis, a cardiologist and researcher with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

Dr. Katsiyiannis didn’t know me at all, but he treated my wife and I as if we were old friends. Trust, respect and admiration came quickly! Remember, I was already many months into this terrible A-fib rhythm. But Dr. K helped me keep hope alive!

Even after receiving this precious gift of health, however, it took me many months to make the changes I needed to make – both physically and mentally. I remained overweight and unhappy, and it took a few major epiphanies to motivate me to make a change. I realized that I was not being responsible for the gift that Dr. K and MHIF had given to me. I was not caring for my fixed heart!

So I made a commitment to change my lifestyle completely, and I have not looked back. I joined a gym and began following a heart-healthy eating plan. I immediately began to feel the effects of healthy nutrition and exercise – I had more energy, clarity and motivation than I had ever experienced!

I had to tell you all that to tell you this:

Last month, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation participated in the Run for Blood. Researchers, staff, patients and friends came to run, raise money for the American Red Cross, and to celebrate motion and life!

Among the participants were my wife and myself – and my heart doctor! Dr. Katsiyiannis, cardiology nurses Ashley and Suzie, and my wife and I all ran together around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. We ran in rhythm, united by goals of personal health, aiming to lead by example!

Running side by side with my doctor and friend was euphoric. I had to fight back tears while reminiscing of the unhappy days in a hospital bed at nearly 400 pounds. “How did I get to this moment?” I repeated, over and over, in my head. Dr. Katsiyiannis has certainly “touched my heart” in more ways than one!

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To take time out to run in support of MHIF’s ongoing efforts to “Create a World Without Heart Disease” was inspiring. Striding around the lake with my cardiologist and my wife was truly as good as it gets! I love the new me that Dr. Katsiyiannis and the Foundation created, and I will continue to gratefully remember my past as I move into my future.

Many thanks to MHIF for organizing this event, and to BMO Harris Bank for their support. It truly was a day to remember!