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    Country Singer Randy Travis in Critical Condition With Heart Infection

    Singer first admitted to Dallas hospital on Sunday after developing what he thought was a cold

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By HealthDay News staff

    HealthDay Reporter

    TUESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Country music singer Randy Travis was listed in critical condition Tuesday following surgery in a Dallas hospital to treat a viral heart infection.

    The 54-year-old singer was first admitted on Sunday after he developed what he thought was a cold, but he was later diagnosed with a serious condition known as viral cardiomyopathy.

    Viral cardiomyopathy occurs when a virus infects and attacks the heart, leading to inflammation and a reduced ability to pump blood throughout the body, according to the Heart and Vascular Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. This particular form of cardiomyopathy can progress rapidly, and while it only accounts for 1 percent of all heart disease deaths in the United States, it is one of the most common causes of heart disease in younger people.

    One expert explained how viral cardiomyopathy can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition.

    "Myocarditis is an inflammatory condition which can occur when the heart is infected by a virus. The condition can range from a minor flu-like illness to critical cardiogenic shock," said Dr. Sean Pinney, director of the Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

    "Most patients will experience only minor degrees of heart dysfunction and will make a full recovery," Pinney continued. "For those patients in whom the virus produces greater degrees of heart dysfunction, full recovery is possible, but less likely. About half of these patients will develop chronic heart failure, and another 25 percent will need a heart transplant or a mechanical assist device," he noted.

    "The cornerstone of treatment is to provide excellent supportive care," Pinney explained. "This may include the use of ventricular assist devices, which are surgically implanted pumps designed to support the circulation until the heart can recover or until a heart transplant is performed. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs have been used, but it is not clear whether they are helpful in aiding recovery."

    Another expert outlined a similar prognosis.

    "Viral myocarditis is an unfortunate condition where the virus attacks the heart muscle, causing heart damage similar to a heart attack," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "In some situations the heart will recover and in others it will not, leading to heart failure. All we can do is give supportive care, careful monitoring and waiting."

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