Jesse McReynolds resting after heart scare

Jesse McReynolds is resting comfortably at the Ascension Saint Thomas Heart hospital in Nashville after a scare that has kept him hospitalized since Saturday.

Jesse is an early pioneer of bluegrass mandolin, developing his own unique style following on the success of Bill Monroe with their chosen instrument. He toured with his brother for 50 years as Jim & Jesse and The Virginia Boys, and the two are honored with induction into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

At 93, Jesse is one of the last living members of the first generation of artists who formed and shaped what we now know as bluegrass music, and while performing is difficult, he still plays his mandolin regularly.

This past Saturday (3/18), Jesse suffered a fall at home, and his wife, Joy, fearing that he might have broken his hip, took him to the emergency room. Doctors there found no broken hip, but did detect that his heart was beating quite irregularly, stopping and starting up again. Concerned that his fall may have been a result of the irregular heartbeat, they have kept him admitted for observation.

Joy tells us that they were considering implanting a pacemaker to maintain a regular heartbeat, but have just today decided against it, with an eye towards his age. She is hoping to take him home tomorrow.

She also shared that when Jesse was in his 80s, doctors discovered that he had a tiny hole in his heart, but given that he had survived and thrived without treatment all those years, elected to leave it be. But she was told that this defect allows additional blood flow into the lungs, and can lead to vessel deterioration over time.

For now, Jesse is expected to be released soon to go home, but will continue to receive special therapy and be closely monitored.

Very good news. Get well soon, Jesse McReynolds!

UPDATE March 21: In a change of plans, doctors at St. Thomas have decided that a pacemaker is warranted, and Jesse is receiving it today.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.