Background: Amyloidosis is a rare disease characterized by the extracellular accumulation of a protein polysaccharide complex: amyloid. Cardiac involvement may occur with or without clinical manifestations, and is considered as a major prognostic factor.
Aim of the study: Firstly, to analyze the clinical, electrocardiographic, radiological and echocardiographic features in a group of patients with extracardiac biopsy-proven amyloid infiltration and evidence of echocardiographic amyloid heart disease. Secondly, to compare the survival of amyloidosis patients, with or without cardiac involvement.
Patients and methods: We retrospectively analyzed the main echocardiographic features of 47 patients with biopsy proven amyloidosis. No clinical, electrocardiographic, radiological or scintigraphic criterium were selective for cardiac involvement. Thirty patients with echographic features of amyloid heart disease were identified and compared to 17 patients without echographic features of amyloid heart disease.
Results: Amyloid disease with heart involvement was AL in 25/30 (83%) patients and occurred more commonly in middle age men (mean age: 53+/-11 years). The main clinical presentation was congestive heart failure (59%), but 37% of patients had no clinical cardiac features. The electrocardiogram was abnormal in 86% and the cardiac silhouette was enlarged on chest roentgenogram in 27% of patients. The main echocardiographic findings were: diffuse ventricular wall thickening in 21 patients (70%) and isolated septal wall thickening in 9 patients (30%); restrictive pattern of left ventricular (LV) diastolic function in 17 patients (57%); pericardial effusion in 12 patients (40%); impaired LV systolic function in 8 patients (27%); atrial enlargement in 8 patients (27%); characteristic granular sparkling of LV myocardium in 8 patients (27%); mitral and/or aortic valve thickening in 4 patients (13%). Cardiac symptoms developed in 72% of the non symptomatic patients having echocardiographic evidence of cardiac involvement. Twenty-five patients died during the study period and the death was due to cardiac disease in 76%. Median survival time was 36 months from time of amyloidosis diagnosis, and it was 23 months from time of amyloid myocardiopathy diagnosis. It shortened to 6 months when congestive heart failure appeared.
Conclusion: Patients with a histologically proven amyloidosis should be examined by echocardiography, because cardiac involvement is frequently found in patients with no clinical symptoms, and non symptomatic patients having echocardiographic evidence of cardiac involvement will almost always develop cardiac symptoms. Survival actuarial study confirms the significant adverse influence of cardiac involvement in amyloidosis.