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Laurie Vanderwyden

First Powerless Than Grateful

Holy Name Cardiology - Laurie Vanderwyden

Laurie Vanderwyden felt so exhausted one night, the only word she can find to describe the severity of what she was feeling is "powerless."

"I was barely able to move or walk, I knew something wasn't right but didn't have the courage to go to the emergency room," she explains.

In the morning, when she woke, still feeling incredibly weak, Laurie took her blood pressure and found it was severely low at 50/40. "I said to my husband, take me to Holy Name."

Unbeknownst to her, Laurie was having a heart attack.

"As we're making our way to the hospital, I'm sipping coffee and chicken soup in the car. My sister is a nurse and said it might help stabilize my blood pressure."

Once in the emergency department, Laurie was met by Dr. Zankhana Raval, an interventional cardiology specialist.

"There are a number of hospitals closer to where I live but I went to Holy Name because of Dr. Raval. She is a little lightning bolt of magic," said Laurie.

Laurie, who has a family history of heart disease, had recently been referred to Dr. Raval for help managing her normally high blood pressure. It is a symptom that requires monitoring, considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. It kills nearly 300,000 women every year, which amounts to 1 in every 4 deaths.

Dr. Raval knew at once that Laurie was facing a life-threatening event.

"I formed an immediate bond with Dr. Raval, which is important because when you're going to a cardiologist, it's not like going to a podiatrist to have your toe nails cut. You're talking about your heart, so feeling confident in your doctor is key."

That confidence was well deserved. Dr. Raval quickly assessed that Laurie needed two new stents immediately. The emergency procedure saved her life.

"I'm so grateful. I didn't have your typical heart attack symptoms, there was no pain in my chest or numbness in my arm - I just felt really tired," she said.

Now she wants other women to know that heart attacks can present in many ways. Many women with heart disease have no symptoms but when they appear, they may include: chest discomfort or pain that may be sharp or burning; pain in the neck, jaw, throat, back or upper abdomen; indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting; extreme fatigue and shortness of breath.

"I wish I had gone to the hospital sooner and called an ambulance instead of going by car. Don't wait."

Nearly six months later, and after having a third stent implanted, Laurie is feeling well. She credits Dr. Raval, who she says, has a wealth of knowledge.

"She is beautiful inside and out and when you look into her eyes, as dark as they are, you can see her passion, her love for what she does."

Laurie isn't just grateful to Dr. Raval but to all of Holy Name.

"The hospital staff, the nurses, even the food was exceptional," Laurie said. "And when I go to Dr. Raval's office, I don't feel like a patient. They make me feel like a person. They treat me, not just my heart condition."

Learn more about Laurie Vanderwyden's cardiology physician