Local sales manager passes out at WCHS-TV, has quadruple bypass days later
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women. Because of that, it touches everyone in some way, whether that be a family member, a friend or a coworker.
In fact, a few heart survivors can be found under the roof of WCHS/WVAH. Some even went through life-changing surgeries recently. As a part of American Heart Month, Eyewitness News Anchor Whitney Wetzel talked with the station's local sales manager, whose quadruple bypass was prompted by an incident at work.
Local sales manger, Brian Knost, passed out at work one day last summer having no idea that would lead to him having major heart surgery just a few days later. But, he did know about his family history of heart disease and the risk he faced.
“Heart disease runs in the family. It has forever. My mom and dad both had it. My mom passed away from it. So I was always cognizant of the fact that I should watch out for symptoms and signs and all that,” Knost said.
By the time Knost reached his mid-40s, he started experiencing those signs and symptoms, even having a heart attack in 2013.
"I had every symptom. My chest hurt, my left arm hurt, I couldn't breathe, I was nauseated, I was sweating. Everything in me said, 'Brian you're having a heart attack,' but I didn't want to believe it."
After his heart attack, Knost had multiple stints put in during routine heart catheterizations, along with regular stress tests. Doctors told Knost he would one day need to have bypass surgery, but they would put it off for as long as possible.
“In July of '17, I was at work at WCHS and I passed out," Knost said. "No warning signs, no nothing, I just passed out. My boss, thankfully for him, talked me into going to the hospital.”
It was that trip to the hospital that led to a heart catheterization with his cardiologist, which turned out to be anything but routine.
“Always before he would joke around with me and this time he said, 'I'll talk to you about it later, I want to get a second opinion' and I thought right then and there, something's not right. Sure enough, in recovery he came in and said, 'I'm not going to mess around, you need quadruple bypass and you need it now.' I said, 'Well, define now' and he said, 'Within the next five days.' "
From that moment on, Knost's whole world changed.
"About everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I actually died twice on the table,” Knost said.
Doctors ended up implanting a pacemaker along with four new arteries, but it was a long road to recovery. Knost had to give up golfing and hunting while he worked to regain his strength. Now, at age 53, with a total of 10 stints, he also had to make several lifestyle changes.
"Being in sales, it is stressful," Knost said. "Working for a television station can be stressful. I have to force myself to try not to get stressed out. When I had my heart attack, I weighed like 245 pounds. I'm at 185 now. I can sit here and try to convince myself that smoking had nothing to do with it, but it didn't help either.”
Knost now does his best to eat healthy and exercise several time a week. He hopes to get back to his hobbies this year and enjoy what matters most.
"Right now, what's important to me is my family, obviously my health, my grandkids and doing everything I can to make sure that I'm around for as long as I can be for them."
Just a few weeks ago, Knost told us his younger brother also had to have surgery to receive two stints in his heart. Both are now recovering and doing well, but Knost's most important piece of advice is to not ignore any symptoms and get help immediately.