Thrive by IU Health

November 10, 2023

Surviving the unthinkable: Amanda Westfall's journey to heart health

IU Health West Hospital

Surviving the unthinkable: Amanda Westfall's journey to heart health

By Emma Avila,, writer for IU Health’s Indianapolis Suburban Region

IU Health West saved Amanda Westfall’s life after she had a heart attack. Now, she prioritizes self-care and encourages others to be proactive about their heart health.

Amanda Westfall will always remember the events of August 27 because they changed her life. She remembers feeling odd that morning.

“I woke up and I just didn’t feel right,” she says. She thought it might be a combination of anxiety and low blood sugar since she had a history of both. “I describe it as an inner tube that was super tight all the way around my shoulders. I tried to eat. I tried to calm down.”

Nothing she did helped lessen the strange feeling.

Since her husband was out of town, she called her parents to take her a local Emergency department. The doctors there told her she was having a heart attack. She was shocked because she had felt great up until that day.

“I wasn’t exactly the epitome of health though. I’m 47. My lifestyle has changed, but I guess it was bad,” she explains.

Westfall needed a heart catheterization and was transported by ambulance from the first healthcare facility to IU Health West.

“It was amazing because the doctors took over and wheeled me straight over the Cath Lab,” she says. “My main artery, called the widow maker, was completely blocked. While they were in there, they put a stent in and blew that out.”

She remembers feeling a huge difference immediately.

“I’m here because of their quick action. It was so meticulous.”

Westfall spent the next four days in the hospital’s Intensive Care unit. After she was discharged, she began seeing Dr. Omar Batal, a cardiologist at IU Health West, and also began 12 weeks of cardiac rehab at the hospital.

Westfall speaking with Megan Sharpe, respiratory therapist, in Cardiac Rehab

Through the experience, she has learned to put herself first. As a working wife and mother of three teenagers, stress was a constant in Westfall’s life.

“For probably a year, I wasn’t doing anything for me,” she says. “Moms take care of everything. For my family and the doctors to take care of me while I went through this was just amazing.”

She is also encouraging her loved ones to be proactive with their health and get their hearts checked. Some have even found they are at risk and are taking preventative steps.

Westfall gifted every Cardiac Rehab team member a small robot with a heart

Though she wouldn’t wish her experience on anyone, Westfall says she is glad for the wakeup call.

“You have to put you first,” she says. “Love yourself and love your heart.”


Heart Health

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