Cardiac amyloidosis is caused by deposits of amyloids (protein fragments) in heart tissue. These deposits may cluster together and make it difficult for electrical signals to move through the heart. This can lead to abnormal beating of the heartbeats, known as arrhythmia and faulty heart signals, or heart block.
Symptoms of Cardiac Amyloidosis
Some patients with cardiac amyloidosis do not have symptoms, while others may have several, including:
- Waking at night to urinate often
- Exhaustion; noticeable decreased physical activity
- Heart palpitations (awareness of heart beating)
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Swelling (edema) in the ankles, legs or abdomen
- Breathing issues, particularly when lying down
Amyloidosis can affect other organs, including the nervous system, kidneys, liver and GI system. Patients with nerve involvement may exhibit symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, or painful tingling and numbness in the feet, legs, and sometimes hands.
Treating Cardiac Amyloidosis
There are various types of amyloidosis, and the causes and treatments may differ considerably depending on the underlying cause and organ involvement. This can make the problem hard to diagnose. The most common procedures to diagnose this condition are a cardiac MRI, echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), or electrocardiogram (EKG). A cardiac biopsy will often be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Your doctor at Houston Methodist may recommend a change in diet or prescribe water pills (diuretics) to reduce excess body fluid.
Cardiologists may also call for more significant treatment:
- Beta blockers
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
- Heart transplant (and possibly dual organ transplant)
- Stem cell transplant
- Doxycycline/tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA)
- Vyndamax (tafmadis) or diflunasil for cardiomyopathy due to transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis
- Novel research agents for TTR including RNA-silencing agents