Valley doctor explains dangers of viral cardiomyopathy

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Country music star Randy Travis recently was released from Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas after being admitted on July 7 due to viral cardiomyopathy.

Viral cardiomyopathy is a virus that attacks the heart muscle, causing it to become dysfunctional.  The heart itself enlarges and becomes weakened.  It loses the ability to contract or pump effectively -- not pumping out the proper amount of blood -- and also becomes unable to effectively relax.

The infection stems from things such as the flu and other viruses.

"There's still some lingering problems during that period of time and for whatever reason it attacks the person's heart," said Dr. Robert Scott, Medical Director of the Heart Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic.

The disease can also lead to heart failure and even a stroke, which happened to Travis.

"This is an uncommon thing to occur, 99.9 percent of people who get the flu or a virus, they get it and it goes away, and it's no big deal," Dr. Scott said.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the disease. Many have speculated that Travis' drug and alcohol addiction may have played a roll in contracting the disease.

The 54-year-old country singer is now receiving physical therapy after his brain surgery.

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