Amyloidosis is a rare, multisystem disease that develops when abnormally shaped proteins called amyloids build up (usually in your bone marrow but sometimes in the liver) and are deposited throughout the body in tissues or organs. The four types of amyloidosis — immunoglobin type AL (originates in the bone marrow), inflammation type AA (originates in the liver), hereditary type ATTR (originates in the liver) and dialysis-associated type Beta2 miroglobulin — frequently affect the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract and can lead to life-threatening organ failure.
It is important to get a diagnosis as early as possible to help prevent further organ damage; the treatment will vary depending on the specific type of amyloidosis you have. Symptoms to watch for include decreased urine output, difficulty breathing, swelling in the ankles or other body parts that does not subside, severe fatigue or weakness, diarrhea (possibly with blood) or constipation, an enlarged tongue, thickened or bruised skin, purple patches around the eyes, an irregular heartbeat or numbness/tingling or pain in the hands, feet or wrists.

At the Amyloid Clinic at Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center, we treat the condition with a combination of chemotherapy and blood stem cell infusions. In addition, the team manages the underlying causes of amyloidosis with medication to reduce pain, fluid retention, inflammation, thin the blood and control the heart rate. If your condition worsens to the point of organ failure, we may recommend a transplant.

In addition, a transplant may be necessary to replace an organ that has failed because of a buildup of amyloids in that organ; in earlier stages of the condition, the transplant team may suggest a transplant of the organ responsible for generating the proteins (liver or bone marrow) in order to slow the progression of the disease. If you are on dialysis, replacing a kidney may help slow the dialysis-related version of amyloidosis.
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