Sandy Puts Whole Heart into Cardiac Rehab

Sandy Puts Whole Heart into Cardiac Rehab

Sandy VanRavenswaay loves to spend time outdoors, especially gardening and going for walks. That all changed in December 2020. Two days before Christmas, she wound up in Holland Hospital’s ER with chest pain and elevated blood pressure.

“I’d had a heart attack, but my heart catheterization showed no blockages,” she said. “It appeared to be stress related. I had been dealing with a lot of stress at the time from multiple sources.”

Despite having no blockages, her symptoms continued for some weeks after and she soon realized there wouldn’t be a quick or automatic fix. The hospital offered and recommended VanRavenswaay include cardiac rehabilitation as part of her treatment.

Holland Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation delivers supervised exercise to people who’ve experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, open heart surgery or a heart valve replacement. The 36-week program also incorporates education for achieving a heart-healthy lifestyle, including guidance on managing emotional and mental stress.

“Benefits of cardiac rehabilitation include improved stamina and endurance, but there’s also the holistic component,” said Laura Meiste, RN, manager, Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab. “Our program combines monitored exercise in a safe environment with an individualized plan of care that incorporates all aspects of cardiac health.”

“The program has been a game changer for me,” VanRavenswaay added.

A retired teacher from Cityside Middle School in Zeeland, VanRavenswaay felt like she couldn’t do much of anything—even laundry—without struggling with shortness of breath and tightness in her chest. While this was a disheartening reality for the once active 58-year-old, she nevertheless persisted.

Experiencing a heart attack is scary for anyone, but having an open mind and heart to rehabilitation can yield renewed self-assurance. “Cardiac rehab has given me my confidence back,” VanRavenswaay said. “I feel much better now and am pleased with the direction my recovery is taking.”

Today, she’s returned to walking and hiking, as well as enjoying time with her family. VanRavenswaay credits the comprehensiveness of the program, along with her dedicated caregivers, for making a big difference in her recovery journey.

“Everybody has been wonderful. I’m in really good hands,” she said. “They’ve paved the foundation for me to move forward and be active again.”

You can learn more about Holland Hospital’s advanced heart and vascular services, including cardiac rehabilitation, at


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