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TODAY   |  July 11, 2013

Randy Travis suffers stroke, has late-night surgery

The country music legend, who has been undergoing treatment for congestive heart failure due to a viral infection, suffered a stroke Wednesday and is now recovering from surgery in critical condition. NBC’s Charles Hadlock reports and Dr. Nancy Snyderman discusses what may have led to the stroke.

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>>> the health of country star randy travis has taken a turn for the worse overnight. nbc's charles hadlock is at the hospital in plano, texas . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. the legendary singer suffered a stroke yesterday and underwent emergency surgery last night to relieve pressure on his brain, according to his publicist. you may think that i'm talking foolish

>> reporter: this morning randy travis is in critical condition in a texas hospital, fighting for his life. overnight the country star suffered a stroke, a serious complication of congestive heart failu failure, after the 54-year-old contracted a viral infection .

>> the stroke simply means the brain isn't getting enough blood and therefore enough oxygen to plain tain itself. while the degree of recovery and speed of recovery will be a direct function of how much damage to the brain if any that there was.

>> reporter: he remains in critical condition after late night surgery.

>> we love him and just hope he gets well soon.

>> reporter: travis 's family and friends are asking for prayers and support. keith urban issued a statement saying, i always feel like he's part of our family. he's in our family. i really feel for him right now. the illness came as travis was trying to put his life back together after a series of embarrassing public incidents.

>> have you had anything to drink today, sir?

>> yes, sir, i have.

>> reporter: travis was arrested for public intoxication in february of 2012 . six months later travis was found lying in the road naked and legally intoxicated after a one car accident.

>> i'm glad it's behind me. i look forward to getting on with the year.

>> he embodied that traditional country music . he kind of paved the way for a lot of the modern musicians right now.

>> reporter: randy travis is out of surgery. doctors say he remains in critical condition . matt?

>> thank you very much. dr. nancy snyderman is nbc's chief medical editor. good morning to you.

>> hey, matt.

>> he is admitted to the hospital for a viral infection that weakened his heart. he is put on a temporary device supposed to help his heart and then he suffers a stroke. medically speaking anything surprise you?

>> no. it sort of all makes sense. his alcoholism could have weakened him from the beginning but some viruses just attack the heart muscle and then sort of squeezing the blood out with force it becomes sloppy and can't force blood out and at that point you need this assist device. then complications can set in. we don't know if he had a stroke because a blood vessel burst open because it was anticoag lated or if he flipped. either way hours by hours doctors have to relieve pressure from the brain and watch him.

>> i've always heard the first several hours and days after a stroke are the most important.

>> right.

>> what are doctors looking for?

>> they are looking to reduce the pressure in his brain and looking at the blood pressures in his arteries and vein. they are watching this heart to see how well it is going to function, if it is at the end of his life and if so how fast they can get him on a heart transplant list and the fact he is in texas where heart transplantation is at the top of the charts is great, very important.

>> thanks so much. we'll get back later with a couple medical stories.