ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

At least 600,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year. That's why it's so important to keep your heart healthy-- a lesson one man almost learned the hard way.

You see him on 69 News often, especially during the winter. He's Ron Young, a spokesperson for PennDOT. Now, he's also a spokesperson of sorts for heart health.

"Every day I wake up, I'm happy to be alive," said 42-year-old Young.

On February 16, 2012, he had a heart attack. "I felt tightness in my chest getting tighter and tighter as if Hulk Hogan was squeezing me as hard as he could," explained Young.

His wife drove him to the hospital, where he was hurried into the emergency room. Turns out, he had an artery that was 100% blocked and was rushed into surgery to have a stent put in.

"I was very scared, you don't really plan for that to happen to you," said Young.

So it was then and there that Ron decided to take charge of his heart health.

His dad died of a blood clot at just 32 and his mom died after her third heart attack at age 63, and Young said it was time for him to break the cycle.

"Genetics was a big part of it. My diet and exercise routine was also not where it should have been for someone with a history such as mine," explained Young.

He then started eating healthy, bringing low-fat, low sodium lunches to work, going for walks on his lunch hour, lifting weights, and running.

In just under two years, Young dropped over 50 pounds, lowered his overall cholesterol by more than 100 points, and greatly increased his heart health.

Now, he has a message for others out there.

Young said, "It's never too late. You can start today and as soon as you start exercising and changing your lifestyle it does have an immediate effect on your body."

He admits it's hard at times, but says it's worth it. "I just don't want to ever go through that again and that's good motivation for me," he said.