The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 11, 2013

Singer Randy Travis recovering from brain surgery

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music stars and fans joined together to urge prayers for Randy Travis overnight as he recovered from brain surgery following a stroke at a Texas hospital.

Travis remained in critical condition after surgery Thursday morning to relieve pressure on his brain, publicist Kirt Webster said. The 54-year-old Grammy Award-winning singer had been improving while being treated for heart failure caused by a viral infection when he had the stroke.

Steady concern for Travis, a popular and pivotal figure in country music, turned to active support as stars like Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride and the Grand Ole Opry used Twitter to join Webster's call for prayers. Hundreds of users reached out using the hashtag PrayforRandy.

"We're all pulling for you Randy," Brad Paisley said via Twitter.

The setback occurred hours after doctors said Travis was showing signs of improvement since the start of treatment Sunday for congestive heart failure and the insertion of a pump to help his heart increase blood flow.

His doctors said Wednesday in a video statement that his heart problem stemmed from an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus, but they have not released any information since.

Infections, both viral and bacterial, may start elsewhere in the body but sometimes can affect the heart, either because the infection itself spreads or because immune cells that are fighting it enter the heart and cause inflammation.

About 20 different viruses, including the flu, can lead to this so-called myocarditis, and there's no way to predict who is at particular risk, said Dr. Justine Lachmann of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. When younger people develop heart failure, it's usually for this reason.

Most people recover from myocarditis, but a small number rapidly develop life-threatening illness — experiencing a domino effect as the inflammation weakens the heart muscle, leading to congestive heart failure, in which the heart can't pump properly. Doctors treat them with supportive care, trying to allow the heart muscle to rest and recover, sometimes by inserting devices such as the one Travis received to help the heart pump.

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