Randy Travis hospitalized with heart ailment, his publicist says

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Country singer Randy Travis has been hospitalized with a heart infection and was in critical condition on Monday, according to his Nashville-based publicist.

“The Grammy winner is suffering from complications of recently acquired viral cardiomyopathy,” according to the statement from Webster & Associates. “Travis was admitted into the medical facility” Sunday.

The statement did not name the hospital, saying only that it is in Texas. A woman who answered the phone at the firm Monday afternoon said no other information would be released.

Viral cardiomyopathy is a rare but serious infection caused by common viruses, said Dr. Paul Bhella, a cardiologist at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

“These viruses cause inflammatory reactions that cause the heart to not function normally and put it at risk for irregular heart rhythm,” he said. “It results in weakness, meaning your heart can’t squeeze effectively and push blood to your entire body.

“It would put someone in critical condition.”

There are just a few viruses that cause cardiomyopathy, he said, but they’re encountered almost daily, such as the adenovirus, which brings on the common cold.

“These virus are not uncommon,” Bhella said. “It’s just uncommon to actually get the heart involved.

“We may encounter these viruses on day-to-day basis but in some cases — and we don’t know why — they’ll cause some people to have heart weaknesses.

“It’s very, very hard to identify who those people are.”

Viral cardiomyopathy can be successfully treated, but many survivors face lifelong weakness of the heart, said Bhella, who is director of cardiac imaging at JPS.

Travis had a bout with Lyme disease about five years ago that threatened his voice, according to published reports. And he was hospitalized briefly last year after a fistfight with a man outside a Plano church.

That followed two encounters with law enforcement officers involving alcohol not far from his home in Tioga.

But in March, he performed before a boisterous and appreciative crowd at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth.

According to a Star-Telegram story about Travis that appeared after that concert, Travis began work in November on an album of cover versions of songs by his country heroes, such as George Jones and Lefty Frizzell. At the time, he was hoping for a late-summer release date.

Travis’ Website reported that he recently released Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum, a tribute to Jones, who died in April.

He was scheduled to perform Wednesday in Deadwood, S.D., according to news reports.

Staff writers Robert Philpot and Shirley Jinkins contributed to this report.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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