DETROIT (WWJ) – He was diagnosed with heart failure at the age of 40, and now a Detroit man has a message for others facing the disease: There’s hope.

“In fact, my personal doctor in the end admitted to me that she didn’t think that I was gonna make it,” said James Young, II — clad in a red t-shirt with white letters that reads: “I ran from congestive heart failure.”

Six years ago, Young says he was making all the wrong choices about his lifestyle and diet — eating fast food almost every day.

“Pulling up in the drive-thru, sometimes the person — if they recognized my voice — they actually would know: ‘Oh, you want the number three; and you still want the lemonade with that? OK, and you want that spicy, right?’, you know? And I wouldn’t have to say anything,” he said. “They would just see me and make that correlation, ‘Oh, we know what you want.'”

(credit: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

(credit: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

“So, it was fast food, and I was not drinking enough water at all. I was drinking a lot of carbonated drinks; a lot of Pepsi, Coke, Faygo.  That was my liquid intake most days,” Young said, adding that physically inactivity was also a big problem.

Young said after the diagnosis and a three-month hospital stay, he made up in his mind to change everything.

“Two major things, really, was the smoking and the drinking. Once that was eliminated, that was like a huge, you know, towards my recovery,”  Young said. “The next thing was the diet. Naturally, I veered away from all the fast food places that I would frequent and then began going to a place called the grocery store.”

Young went from 275 to 195 pounds, no longer taking medication and he is very active walking first, and is now running.

“And that went on to entering 5Ks 10Ks, and things of that nature. So that became the substitute activity from say, like going to the bar,” he said. “So it’s taking, you know, these things that were not conducive to my health and well-being and replacing them with things that are.”

Young is now a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and he will join a group for their Most Powerful Voices free health fair and concert featuring award-winning gospel artist, Marvin Sapp at Second Ebenezer Church on Sept. 9. [Get event details].

Young, who lost his father who was diabetic to complications from heart disease, says he’s never going back.

“One of the greatest lessons I learned from this is to love myself more than my bad habits,” he said. “For so long I was loving the bad habits and giving that more credence, more attention, than loving myself.”


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