A Barnstaple man with a serious heart condition is helping others across the UK who have the disease. Chris Jones, 67, from Shorelands Road, has the heart condition cardiomyopathy. He belongs to the charity that supports sufferers - the Cardiomyopathy As

A Barnstaple man with a serious heart condition is helping others across the UK who have the disease.

Chris Jones, 67, from Shorelands Road, has the heart condition cardiomyopathy. He belongs to the charity that supports sufferers - the Cardiomyopathy Association (CMA) - and has joined the charity's network of people who offer one-to-one support on the telephone.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that affects people of all ages including babies. It is the biggest medical cause of sudden death in people aged under 35 but when found can usually be successfully treated with drugs and surgery.

Chris, a retired lecturer, was diagnosed in 1999 with dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of the condition that causes the heart to enlarge and pump less efficiently. In 2002 he suffered a stroke but made a very good recovery. Two years later he had a cardiac arrest.

Chris completed a brief training course with the Cardiomyopathy Association (CMA) earlier this year before joining its network of telephone volunteers, called key contacts.

He said: "I first joined the CMA to find out more about its work and show my support. I became a key contact because I wanted to help others with cardiomyopathy problems. It can be quite frightening when you are first diagnosed. So talking to others who have the same condition and are getting on with their lives is very reassuring."

As well as offering information and support to families, the Cardiomyopathy Association funds clinical care and runs medical conferences for doctors and nurses to increase awareness of the condition and best treatments. Because the condition is often inherited, the charity campaigns for more heart checks and gene testing for affected families to find those at risk and to save lives.

For more information about cardiomyopathy or the Cardiomyopathy Association, see the charity's website www.cardiomyopathy.org or call free phone 0800 0181 024.