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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ailing U.S. country singer Randy Travis has undergone a procedure to place a device in his heart that will help it pump on its own, his publicist said on Tuesday, as the singer remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital.
Travis, who was admitted to the hospital on Sunday because of complications from viral cardiomyopathy, had the device installed in a ventricle of his heart to help stabilize the muscle before moving to another hospital, publicist Kirt Webster said in a statement. Such devices are typically installed through a catheter in the groin.
Cardiomyopathy, which Travis recently acquired, weakens and enlarges the heart, making it more difficult for the muscle to pump blood and can lead to heart failure.
Webster denied media reports that Travis, one of country music's best-selling artists in the 1980s, had undergone heart surgery, but said that the Grammy winner was still in critical condition.
Webster declined to say where Travis was being treated.
"We are very thankful to the fans for their love and support during this time," Travis said in the same statement.
Travis rose to the top of the country music charts by stringing together seven No. 1 hits in the late 1980s, including the love songs "I Won't Need You Anymore (Always and Forever)" and "Too Gone Too Long."
Good wishes poured in from country musicians after the singer entered the hospital.
"Thinking about my friend, @randytravis, tonight. Hope he gets better soon," singer Carrie Underwood said on Twitter. Travis and Underwood shared a Grammy award in 2009 for their duet "I Told You So."
Travis' hits helped country music capture a larger audience and paved the way for 1990s stars Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson.
Travis has had legal problems in recent years. Last year, Texas State Troopers found the singer lying naked near his crashed car. His booking photo showed his face covered in cuts and bruises.
He pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to serve at least 30 days at an in-patient alcohol treatment facility.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Stacey Joyce