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Country music star Randy Travis improving in hospital: doctors

Singer Randy Travis arrives at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada in this April 18, 2010 file photo. REUTE
Singer Randy Travis arrives at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada in this April 18, 2010 file photo. REUTE

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - Grammy award-winning country music singer Randy Travis is responding to treatment for a heart condition that has kept him hospitalized in critical condition since Sunday, his doctors said on Wednesday.

The cause of his illness was a virus, according to Dr. William Gray, director of cardiovascular services at Baylor Medical Center at McKinney, about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Travis' doctors spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday in a video news conference but did not give details about his treatment.

His publicist said on Tuesday that Travis had undergone a procedure to place a device in his heart to help it pump on its own.

The 54-year-old singer, who lives in the North Texas community of Tioga, about 60 miles north of Dallas, was in "excellent health until three weeks prior when he developed a viral upper respiratory illness," Gray said.

Travis was suffering from cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure when he was admitted, Gray said. Cardiomyopathy weakens and enlarges the heart, making it difficult for the heart to pump and can lead to heart failure.

After being stabilized, Travis was transferred to The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano for more specialized care.

"Since his transfer, his condition has stabilized and he has shown signs of improvement," said Dr. Michael Mack, director of cardiovascular disease for the Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System.

A six-time Grammy award winner, known for hits such as "Forever and Ever, Amen" and "Three Wooden Crosses," Travis has received an outpouring of well wishes from country music stars and his fans.

Legal troubles have put Travis in the spotlight in the past year. He was arrested after Texas state troopers found him lying naked in the road near his crashed car almost a year ago. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to serve 30 days at an in-patient alcohol treatment facility.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan, Greg McCune and Dan Grebler)

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