Patient Stories

Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox

Marcus McCleery is CardioSmart

An AFib patient, Marcus lost a considerable amount of weight through diet and exercise. He maintains his heart-healthy ways and passes them on to fellow heart patients through volunteer work.

These before and after photos show the incredible transformation Marcus McCleery made when he lost 183 pounds after weighing nearly 400.
Marcus, who regularly runs in races, dressed up in his cardiologist's lab coat as a tribute during a Halloween "Monster Dash" race in Minnesota.  
Today, Marcus leads by example by serving as a volunteer for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

I did what my doctor asked and moved my body. ... I lost 183 pounds and continue to ‘feed my heart’ what it needs...

Marcus McCleery: Atrial Fibrillation patient

What is your CardioSmart story?

I struggled with fitness and weight all of my adult life. My journey to heart health began a few years ago when my weight rose to nearly 400 pounds due to inactivity caused by atrial fibrillation. My energy was low, I was tired all the time and I used food as comfort. I was referred to a hospital 100 miles away for an ablation. I went in for the procedure and it worked—partly. My surgeon suggested another ablation and convinced me that we were a team in the effort. I agreed and had a second surgery a year after the first. Months later, my cardiologist, William Katsiyiannis, MD, FACC, told me the surgery was a success. I asked him if he was going to tell me to lose weight and he said, "No, I’m just asking you to move 15 minutes a day." Dr. Katsiyiannis has been an amazing source of support, so I did what he asked and starting moving my body. This began a journey that has opened up a whole new world for me.

I researched heart-healthy nutritional plans and began to care for my newly rejuvenated heart. I lost 183 pounds and continue to "feed my heart" what it needs in both movement and nutrition. And I now volunteer for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. I’m able to maintain my own health while helping others find a path that will strengthen, maintain, and "feed" their hearts as well. It has been a blessing to meet others who are also living with heart disease.

What lifestyle changes did you make to improve your heart health?

I created a new relationship with food. I maintain my current nutrition with various checkpoints to make sure I am on track with what I am feeding my body. I began to move my body every day and continue to do so. Whereas an alcoholic, drug addict or smoker can completely give up their "vice," food is tricky in that way. Addiction to "pleasurable" foods is rampant in our society and I constantly fight that temptation and remind myself of how that "lifestyle" can damage the mind, body and spirit. Moderation is key, so before I eat something, I ask myself, "Is this a want or a need?"

How do you work with your doctors and care team to remain heart-healthy?

I have regular check-ups and I ask lots of questions (I write them down and bring them in). Dr. Katsiyiannis and I keep a running dialog from visit to visit on how my heart reacts to races, rest, activities and stress. 

Do you have a support system?

My wife, my in-laws and many friends and other family. Support systems are a critical aspect of my health. And like it or not, I have become a leader in health. When you lose 183 pounds without surgery, most people want to know how you did it. My best answer is to lead by example.

Marcus's Favorite CardioSmart Resources


Bob's Story: Atrial Fibrillation

Learn how Bob Ek and his cardiologist, Scott J. Pollak, MD, FACC, work as a team to manage Bob’s atrial fibrillation.

Patients with AFib Can Benefit Greatly From Yoga

According to a recent study, yoga may work especially well at improving heart rhythm and quality of life for those with atrial fibrillation.

Atrial Fibrillation

If left untreated, AFib can cause blood clots and lead to stroke and heart failure.

Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation: A New Look

Heavy alcohol use significantly increases risk for atrial fibrillation.

Radiofrequency Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation: Early Success Declines Over Time

Radiofrequency ablation is not always a permanent fix for patients with AFib.

Featured Video

AFib affects more than 3 million people in the United States.