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Waco man overcomes the odds of heart failure

Posted at 9:28 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 22:28:55-05

WACO, TX — Christopher DeCluitt's life changed at the age of 47. Now, living with a pacemaker at 50 years old, no one would expect the healthy and active man to be diagnosed with heart failure.

"I am going to do something every day until I can't," DeCluitt said.

He worked out religiously, he competed in triathlons and CrossFit and loved staying active, so when his diagnosis was confirmed he was shocked and angry.

His condition is called Myocardia, meaning the swelling of the heart after not being able to contract properly. A normal heart contracts between 50-75 percent, DeCluitt's was contracting at less than 25 percent.

"I was getting ready to go on a 24-hour hike, and the night before I couldn't sleep I kept waking up losing breath," DeCluitt said.

Staying persistent, he went on that 24-hour hike and felt like death. That same night he was experiencing shortness of breath. That's when he decided to see a doctor.

After many examinations and tests, doctors boiled it down to Myocardia. Though he was young and healthy, it all came as a shock to him. Unfortunately, anyone is vulnerable to heart failure.

"We've seen patients here in our clinic as young as probably 21, and then on up I think we have somebody who is 102 in our clinic," said Melissa Carranza, DeCluitt's Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at Baylor Scott and White.

Like DeCluitt, you can overcome anything life throws your way. Only taking a four-month fitness break, he was back to his CrossFit and triathlon days.

Although he can't work out as hard as he used to, staying active is what keeps him here today.

"The doctor told me that CrossFit probably saved your life because of my physical condition. If I had been obese or in worse condition that might have been it," DeCluitt said.

Being a part of CrossFit for four years, it was a passion he wasn't ready to give up.

"And it is just an addictive program which makes you want to try harder, want to eat better and want to work more and more and be everything you can," DeCluitt said.

He goes on to describe that CrossFit is a camaraderie between the ones who work out together.

"This is one of the big part of my survival is the guys here," DeCluitt said. "It's a family."

Carranza describes DeCluitt as a "go-getter," he was never ready to give up on anything.

That is the advice DeCluitt gives others who may be experiencing the same situation.

"Never give in to the voice in your head that says that's it," DeCluitt said. "Never, ever quit."