NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music stars and fans joined together to urge prayers for Randy Travis on Thursday after he underwent brain surgery following a stroke at a Texas hospital.
Travis remained in critical condition Thursday after surgery to relieve pressure on his brain Wednesday night, 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.
Nancy Jones, the widow of Travis' lifelong hero George Jones, paid a visit to Travis on Thursday. Stars including Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride and the Grand Ole Opry used Twitter to express their concerns and join Webster's call for prayers for the singer, a popular and pivotal figure in country music. Hundreds posted messages with 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.
Heart problems can lead to a 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 in Texas described Travis' condition and hospitalization for the first time in a video statement earlier Wednesday, noting his condition had stabilized and he had "shown signs of improvement."
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