Marcus McCleery: Atrial Fibrillation

“They Gave Me a Second Chance”

Marcus was first seen by cardiologists at the Minneapolis Heart Institute® (MHI) more than 10 years ago. At the time, he weighed nearly 400 pounds and had been diagnosed with chronic atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats rapidly, causing exhaustion.

He had been on medication and previously had surgery to try to correct his heart’s pace. Finally, under the care of MHI® cardiologists, he had a catheter ablation procedure that restored his heart’s normal rhythms.

No Limitations

After the procedure, Marcus did not change his sedentary lifestyle until one visit with his physician, Dr. Katsiyiannis. Marcus asked, “What are my limitations?” and Dr. Katsiyiannis replied, “None.” Marcus was in disbelief.

“I had been given this gift of a new life,” Marcus says, “and I was lying on my couch, eating chips and watching TV, wasting away this gift.”

Dr. Katsiyiannis encouraged Marcus to move his body 15 minutes a day and Marcus took his advice. Fifteen minutes became 20, 30, then more. Eventually he shed more than 180 pounds, and began participating in runs and eventually triathlons.

“My life is so transformed today,” Marcus says, “I am grateful to Dr. Katsyiannis and all of the people at MHIF who make this work happen.”

A New Chapter

Marcus’ story doesn’t end there. In 2016 his atrial fibrillation came back, first sporadically, then more frequently. His heartrate would reach 230 beats per minute with regular movement, much less the rigorous life he had created for himself as a personal trainer and coach.

After many attempts to get his heart back into a regular rhythm, Marcus was fitted with a pacemaker, specially programmed to adjust to his active lifestyle.

“It’s a new chapter of my life,” Marcus says, “And I’m grateful for the opportunity to live it. If doctors are the beautiful bright HDTV, then MHIF is the engine working behind the scenes, dusty and forgotten, but important to the TV’s effectiveness.”

Research to prevent, and treat heart and vascular disease will be able to help more people like Marcus in the future.