HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Hays CISD said one of its students is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack two days after turning 17 years old.
According to her family, Lehman High School junior Riley Koenig went into cardiac arrest on April 17. She’s been in the hospital ever since.
They said she was home when it happened and that her older sister and brother were there to help perform CPR and call 911.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her siblings. They’re absolute heroes,” Riley’s aunt Casey Koenig said.
Her family said because her siblings learned CPR while students at Lehman, they were able to jump into action.
Casey said Riley was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at Dell Children’s Hospital, where she currently is in rehabilitation.
“She had some damage to her brain that affects her vision. So she can see okay, but it’s hard for her to process what she’s seeing,” Koenig said. “She has a hard time seeing certain colors and, you know, certain depth perception. She’s remembering words. She’s learning how to count again.”
Koenig said her niece received an outpouring of support from the community.
“The school, thank goodness, they’re amazing. They’ve been so supportive,” Koenig said. “Her friends have reached out to me on Facebook and social media just to, you know, see how she’s doing.”
The family said Riley may have to get a heart transplant in the future, but that she is staying positive through the journey.
“She is as sassy as she’s ever been,” Koenig said. “As soon as she was able to talk, she was telling jokes.”
The family has a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
Heart disease warning signs
Dr. Charles Fraser, director of the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s Hospital, said heart attacks among adolescents is rare but can happen if cardiomyopathy runs in the family.
“If there’s a family history or personal history, that person should be in the hands of a pediatric cardiologist,” Fraser said. “Usually, that would mean not only a screening cardiologist, but a rhythm specialist or electrophysiologist, and a heart failure or a myocardial or heart muscle disease cardiologist. Those people work together to manage the treatment.”
- New shortness of breath
- Chest pain (particularly at rest)
Fraser said if a patient or a family is anxious, he encourages them to get screened.