David’s Legacy Against Cardiovascular Disease

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This article is part of the “Lead Your Legacy Against Cardiovascular Disease” series. Cardiovascular disease is a group of conditions that involve the heart and blood vessels. Common complications include heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke.

At any time, here or as you finish reading about each individual’s experience, you can click through and take a simple pledge to lead a legacy of fewer lives lost to cardiovascular disease.

David's portrait

Illustration by Cindy Echevarria

Meet David

David Clifton, 49, is a happy father of two adult kids and lives with his wife in Missouri. His experience with cardiovascular disease helped him realize that by taking care of yourself, you’re also taking care of family and loved ones, now and in the future. David works with the American College of Cardiology to share his story and inspire others to make change.

Deciding to Pledge

At 6’4”, David is a big guy with a big heart full of love for his family — his wife, Marlo, and their two kids. Growing up, his family had limited access to healthy foods. “We didn’t have much,” David says. “So we ate what we could afford, like hot dogs.” It wasn’t until he joined the military that he took on a more active lifestyle and a healthier way of eating.

Despite the changes, his family history played a role in his cardiovascular health. His uncle had a heart transplant and his father had a heart attack at age 49. So when David was 34 and feeling symptoms of fatigue and severe back pain, he phoned his father, who told him to call 911.

David later found out that he’d had two heart attacks that day. “The EMTs looked at me, shocked,” he says, “because I was young and buff."

After his hospital stay, during which he thought he was going to leave his family behind, he sank into a depression, mourning things he could no longer enjoy, like working out and eating his favorite foods. “I was pretty much waiting to die,” he says.

Marlo, David's Wife

As caregivers, sometimes you have to advocate for the patients because they can't for themselves.

— Marlo, David's Wife

David’s wife, Marlo, tried to help, but over six years David’s motivation plummeted. “He felt like every day was his last, and he didn't want to make any important decisions,” Marlo says. Concerned, Marlo tried a different medical team. “As caregivers, sometimes you have to advocate for the patients because they can't for themselves,” she says. “I understood what my husband needed, and after we switched clinics, things quickly improved.”

David’s new doctor gave him an ultimatum. “He told me, ‘If you don’t change your attitude, I won’t see you anymore,’” David says. “That’s when I realized I had to actually start living.”

Pledging Together

With the help of his family and his doctors, David broke out of his depression. “He started walking, losing weight, and making plans again,” Marlo says.

Throughout the entire experience, “my family was my rock and my foundation. They are definitely my support group,” David says. They changed eating habits as a family, and the love and care David received from his wife and kids propelled him to make healthier choices. “Marlo kept me on track. She’s the one who kicked my butt when needed,” he says.

David Clifton

It’s an act of commitment showing that you are not only taking care of yourself, but also your family and loved ones. They are your foundation, your rock, and they love and support you because they want you to live and succeed. I want to grow old together with them.

— David Clifton

Together, they’ve found ways to enjoy life, and it’s made an impact on Marlo and the kids, too. Knowing that heart disease runs in their family, David’s kids get blood work every year, and if they see something they know they need to start taking preventative action. “We help each other out,” David says.

Leading a Legacy

Helping each other out and working together for generational change is the exact legacy David wants to lead. “It’s an act of commitment showing that you are not only taking care of yourself, but also your family and loved ones,” he says.

In addition to partnering with his family to make change, David works with the American College of Cardiology to share his story with and inspire others to do the same. He firmly believes that anyone can take action, and even the smallest steps can make a difference, too. If you think you don’t have time, “you do have time,” he says, and everyone has a reason to live well. For David, the reason is his family.

Take Your Pledge

Join David in taking the pledge. Together, we can help lead a legacy of fewer lives lost.

The Legacy We Lead aims to halt the rise of deaths from cardiovascular disease. Click below to be a part of the change—you'll complete the pledge in a heartbeat, and the benefits will last for generations to come.

10/21 date change
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