WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Every year, roughly 800,000 people suffer a heart attack. For about a quarter of those, it’s not their first. That’s the case of a local radio icon who’s recovering from from his latest cardiac health setback.
Rob Neyhard has made a name for himself on the northeastern Pennsylvania radio scene for decades. But as Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, it’s a nearly fatal heart attack which has him delivering, perhaps, his most important broadcast message yet.
“I’m not there yet but that’s my goal; to get back to where I was.” One step and one day at a time, 69-year-old Rob Neyhard is regaining his strength. He exercised on a treadmill during a recent cardiac rehabilitation appointment at Commonwealth Health Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. A nurse told him, “As we go on we’ll continually look at increasing the speed. And I think the elevation will be one that we look at.”
The radio veteran of a half-century is recovering from his latest health setback. “It was just getting worse and worse. This is the worst case of heartburn anybody could have,” said Mr. Neyhard.
He was actually having a heart attack last October which he had suffered twice before. This time he tolerated the pain for a couple of days. “I took some Alka Seltzer and ibuprofen and said this will take care of things.”
Like he’d done so many times before, Mr. Neyhard hoped to call a Friday night high school football game on October 26, 2018 but not just any game. It was the last in Coughlin High School history. Instead, he drove himself to the hospital. “As I’m wheeled into the cath lab I said to the one nurse ‘Does this mean I’m not doing a football game tonight?’ She goes, ‘You’re having a cardiac event.”
The catheterization findings weren’t good according to Mr. Neyhard. “I had major heart damage. Only 25 percent of my heart (was) working.” The damage was so severe, his heart suddenly gave out while in the intensive care unit. Nurses used defibrillator paddles to revive him. “If I had gone home or as you said if I didn’t come in that day I would have… that would have been a permanent,” he paused as he reflected on how close he came to death.
Mr. Neyhard now wants his story to serve as a cautionary tale. “Don’t sit back and say oh it will go away because it doesn’t go away. You’ll go away if you don’t get to the hospital.”
Mr. Neyhard resumed calling high school basketball games this winter. He hopes to return to WILK talk radio sometime this year. He also looks forward to being back in the broadcast booth next high school football season.