Singer Randy Travis Battles Heart Virus

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 10:58 AM

By Charlotte Libov

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Country star Randy Travis is fighting for his life after being stricken with viral
cardiomyopathy – a heart virus – and a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health that the
singer’s hard-drinking lifestyle is a possible factor in his illness.

“Viral cardiomyopathy is a potentially fatal disease,” says Chauncey Crandall, M.D. “It is a viral insult to the heart, which causes damage to the heart muscle, resulting in heart failure and a high risk for sudden death.”

If the 54-year-old Travis – who has a history of boozing – survives this illness, he can live a long life, but he will have to make drastic changes. Said Dr. Crandall: “This means no alcohol, forever.”

Cardiomyopathy is the most common cause of heart transplants. But when it is caused by a virus, as in Travis’ case, transplants are “rare,” Dr. Crandall said. More commonly, cardiac drugs are used to “remodel,” or strengthen the heart, and halt the disease’s progression, added Dr. Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Travis was admitted to a Texas hospital Sunday suffering from viral cardiomyopathy and underwent subsequent heart surgery, according to reports. Details of the surgery were not immediately made public.

SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.

Heart problems run in Travis’ family, according to the performer’s sister-in-law, Teresa Traywick, who is married to his brother . “Our prayers are going out to him because my husband just had a heart attack last year, so it is in their family,” she said in a statement. “Their mother passed away at an early age with her heart, so it is like these boys are following right their footsteps. My prayers are with them. That’s all I can say right now.”

Cardiomyopathy is the general term used to describe a diverse group of diseases that attack the heart muscle. Viral cardiomyopathy is a type of “dilated” cardiomyopathy in which the heart becomes enlarged or stretched, lessening its ability to contract and pump blood. Complications include dangerous irregular heartbeats, blood clots that form within the heart and can trigger a stroke, and sudden death, which can occur at any time during the disease.

Excessive alcohol can be a contributing cause to cardiomyopathy, along with genetic factors, said Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.

Travis had a string of well-publicized incidents involving drinking in 2012. He was arrested for public intoxication when police found him with an open bottle of wine in his car while parked in front of a Texas church. Then he was charged with DWI after he crashed his car while driving naked 60 miles north of Dallas. Afterward, Travis’ lawyer said the star had given up alcohol and embarked on a new fitness regimen.

© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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