Randy Travis recovering from brain surgery

2013-07-12 11:10
Nashville - Country music stars and fans urged prayers for Randy Travis as he recovered from brain surgery following a stroke at a Texas hospital.

Travis remained in critical condition after surgery on 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.

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

Cause of heart problem

Travis is a traditional country purist known for hits Forever and Ever, Amen and I Told You So. He helped return country music to the sound of Hank Williams and George Jones.

His doctors said on Wednesday in a video statement that his heart problem stemmed from an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus.

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 New York. 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 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.

Signs of improvement

His heart problems in turn led to the stroke and can cause other complications.

It was not clear what kind of stroke Travis suffered. The most common type of stroke is caused by a blood clot that travels to the brain. The other kind happens when a blood vessel in the head bursts or leaks.

Stroke patients who get treatment quickly are usually given a drug to dissolve the clot that caused the stroke.

Drs William Gray and Michael Mack of the Baylor Health Care System on Wednesday noted Travis' condition had stabilised and he had "shown signs of improvement".

Hours later, he was in the operating room. Doctors had not yet addressed Travis' current condition on Thursday.

Travis' illness comes as he's been trying to put his life back together following a series of embarrassing public incidents involving alcohol.

He recently made several public appearances, including a poignant performance at George Jones' funeral.