FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Heart disease is often called the "silent killer."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows it's the leading cause of death in men.
David Soto has a scar on his chest -- a reminder that his purpose in life is to raise awareness about heart health.
Soto was born with a congenital heart defect, and it was caught when he was a teen.
When he was 38 years old, it progressed and landed him in surgery.
"They ended up saying that I had a bicuspid valve, and eventually that was clogging," he shared. "Then I had to have an aortic valve replacement."
Soto turns 42 at the end of the month and feels better than ever.
"I've learned, since after my surgery, that a lot of people rely on me," he said. "I want to be around to make sure I take care of my family, even my grandchildren now."
While Soto's heart condition wasn't preventable, doctors said other conditions are preventable -- as long as men are going to the doctor regularly.
"For many, they don't pay attention to the signs unless a family member actually steps in and makes sure that they come in," explained Dr. Toussaint Streat, with Kaiser Permanente.
Possible signs of heart disease are chest discomfort, fatigue, change in appetite and shortness of breath.
Asians, Hispanics and African Americans are most at risk -- with these communities being prone to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
"The diet that we have in this country promotes a lot of this illness," Dr. Streat said.
Soto credits a healthy diet and an active lifestyle for his own healthy heart.
To help spread the message, he volunteers with the American Heart Association, walking in the annual Heart & Stroke Walk.
"They say I'm a survivor, but I don't feel like I'm a survivor," Soto said. "I feel like I'm here for a reason and I'm just trying to spread awareness."
The 2023 Central Valley Heart & Stroke Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 28. It will take place at Tesoro Viejo in Madera. For more information, visit the American Heart Association website.