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Understanding Viral Cardiomyopathy

TYLER (KYTX) -  Country singer Randy Travis is still in the hospital suffering from a viral heart infection.  The condition, cardiomyopathy, happens when the pumping function of the heart is diminished so the heart is weakened.

Local cardiologists say it's rare to develop cardiomyopathy from a virus, but they've had patients dealing with the same condition as Travis.

By just looking at Tyler physical trainer Lacey Lafayette, you'd never know she has the heart condition, cardiomyopathy.

"When I came down with it was after I had my son but I had symptoms when I was a teenager. I was passing out and feeling dizzy a lot but I was never diagnosed until I had my baby 9 years ago," Lafayette says.

Lafayette's doctors say her condition may have stemmed from a viral infection, just like Randy Travis', but it also could have stemmed from her high blood pressure, which she had during her pregnancy.

"I was also very overweight at the time so I had to lose a lot of weight," Lafayette says.

After her diagnosis, she lost 120 pounds!

"The typical cause of cardiomyopathy is high blood pressure," says Trinity Clinic Cardiologist Peter Pitonak.

Pitonak says it's pretty rare to see a virus cause cardiomyopathy, and most times it's very hard to tell if a virus is responsible, unless it's presented very abruptly; but that's not the only cause.

"It also can be caused by alcohol," Pitonak says.

Regardless of how you develop cardiomyopathy, Pitonak says recent studies show, those who get it, almost always have a genetic predisposition.

"It depends on what your genetic background is," he says.

 Randy Travis reportedly has family members with the condition, and so does Lafayette.

"They don't really know with her what caused it either," Lafayette says. "So there is uncertainty with it, so when you get it you have to take care of yourself."

 As soon as you experience symptoms like shortness of breath, heart fluttering, or dizziness, get to the doctor immediately. it could save your life.

There's no way to prevent cardiomyopathy, but doctors say by washing your hands a lot, eating healthy, and keeping your blood pressure low , you can lower your chances of getting it.

Randy Travis is in critical condition still and now has an implanted mechanical device that helps pump blood from the lower chambers his heart to the rest of his body.

The country singer was rushed to the hospital this weekend with a virus that attacked his heart.