Newlywed's husband dies of the same heart condition that killed her boyfriend nine years agoKaren Matthews, 31, from Bristol said 'I feels like the unluckiest woman alive'Husband of four months, Ryan, 36, suffered a fatal heart attack in December
Nine years ago, boyfriend James Gray, 24, died of the same condition

Lucy Waterlow


15:34 GMT, 5 March 2013



01:58 GMT, 6 March 2013

A newlywed mourning the death of her husband said she feels like she's 'jinxed' after he died from the same heart condition that previously killed her boyfriend.

Karen Matthews, 31, from Bristol, found her husband Ryan, 36, face down on the sofa after she left him playing a computer game while she had a shower.

He had suffered a catastrophic heart attack as a result of left ventricular hypertrophy – an enlargement of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart's main pumping chamber.

 Karen Matthews

A fit and healthy newly-wed husband Ryan Matthews (pictured on his wedding day) suddenly died as he played the computer game, Call of Duty. Incredibly Ryan Matthews, 36, was struck down by the same heart condition that killed a boyfriend of his wife, Karen (pictured), nine years previously

The same condition had claimed the life of Karen's previous long-term boyfriend, footballer James Gray, 24. He had been playing in a Somerset FA Challenge Cup match in Bath when he suddenly collapsed in 2003.

Karen said: 'I think I must be the unluckiest woman alive. I definitely feel like I am jinxed. I am still living in disbelief. This does not seem like my life. it just seems crazy. It seems ridiculous that it could happen twice.'

Karen, a senior meetings and events co-ordinator at The Bristol Hotel, had been dating James for for six years and had moved with him a week before he died.

'I must be the unluckiest woman alive… It seems ridiculous that it could happen twice'

A year later she then met Ryan, a popular cyclist described as a 'real gentle giant who liked to keep fit' by his friends.

tying the knot in August, Karen and Ryan had been married for less than
four months before his life was tragically cut short.

Like James, he was fit and healthy but in a repeat of the previous tragedy, he died suddenly after suffering a heart seizure.

Karen described the horror she felt at finding him collapsed in their living room.

She said: 'That night he was fine and was playing on his Xbox. He had eaten his and most of my dinner because he was hungry. I got in a bath at around 8.30pm and after I finished, I shouted to say the bathroom was free.

Young widow: Karen Matthews' husband Ryan died suddenly of a heart condition when he was only 36

'I think I must be the unluckiest woman alive. I
am still living in disbelief. This does not seem like my life. It seems ridiculous that it could happen twice,' said Ms Matthews ( pictured)

'I got no response so just thought he was engrossed in his game. I went downstairs and he was face down on the sofa. He was just lifeless and I rang 999 and was hysterical.'

Karen ran to her neighbours for help but despite their, and then paramedics, attempts to revive him, he was declared dead at the scene.

'The ambulance service came and they tried to resuscitate him but in my heart I knew he was gone, but they were amazing and just kept on trying to save him,' Karen said.

The death has shocked Ryan’s many friends and family who knew him as a fit and healthy young man, who as a broadband engineer for Virgin Media.

'He would go to the gym three or four times a week and would go bike riding,' said Karen. 'He was very fit and healthy and worked very hard so none of it makes any sense. I miss him terribly, the house is so quiet.'

Left ventricular hypertrophy is an enlargement of the heart that can develop in response to factors such as high blood pressure.

In Ryan's memory, his friends and family now hope to raise 8,000 for the British Heart Foundation with a sponsored Weymouth to Bristol bike ride.

For more information on the Ride for Ryan, visit