CARDIAC AMYLOIDOSIS is considered rare—it is estimated to affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. With improvement in diagnostic methods, more heart failure patients are now being found to have an underlying cardiac amyloidosis.
Cardiac amyloidosis occurs when an abnormal protein—called amyloid—builds up in the heart tissue. The heart muscles become rigid, which prevents the heart from relaxing between beats. This prevents blood from getting into your heart. Patients have symptoms such as shortness of breath and leg swelling.
Early diagnosis can improve survival. Besides medications, a heart transplant is typically the most effective solution; however, most patients are not candidates because the condition is too advanced at the time of diagnosis.
Underlying cardiac amyloidosis has recently been found as the cause of some patients’ heart failure. It is important to make this distinction because treatment for cardiac amyloidosis is a completely different kind of heart failure and some of the regular heart failure medications are harmful in amyloidosis patients. If started early in the course of the disease, current medications for cardiac amyloidosis can prolong and preserve quality of life.
UK HealthCare’s cardiac amyloidosis clinic is the only one of its kind in Kentucky.
The team of doctors at the UK HealthCare cardiac amyloidosis clinic specialize in treating cardiac amyloidosis as well as kidney, liver and other organ problems that can come with it. Nurse coordinators support and guide patients through their care. The clinic can also connect patients with clinical trials that test new therapies and study how the disease progresses.
Talk to your health care provider about cardiac amyloidosis if you have symptoms of heart failure and one or more of the following: Shortness of breath; unexplained weight loss or poor appetite; peripheral neuropathy in the feet; atrial fibrillation (Afib); an echocardiogram that shows the heart is squeezing properly but doesn’t relax completely (diastolic heart failure); or frequent hospital admissions for heart failure.
GAURANG VAIDYA, M.D., is a University of Kentucky HealthCare cardiologist specializing in advanced heart failure and heart transplantatio