Infiltrative cardiovascular diseases: cardiomyopathies that look alike

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010 Apr 27;55(17):1769-79. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.12.040.


Infiltrative cardiomyopathies are characterized by the deposition of abnormal substances that cause the ventricular walls to become progressively rigid, thereby impeding ventricular filling. Some infiltrative cardiac diseases increase ventricular wall thickness, while others cause chamber enlargement with secondary wall thinning. Increased wall thickness, small ventricular volume, and occasional dynamic left ventricular outflow obstruction (e.g., amyloidosis) can outwardly appear similar to conditions with true myocyte hypertrophy (e.g., hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hypertensive heart disease). Likewise, infiltrative disease that presents with a dilated left ventricle with global or regional wall motion abnormalities and aneurysm formation (e.g., sarcoidosis) may mimic ischemic cardiomyopathy. Low-voltage QRS complex was the sine qua non of infiltrative cardiomyopathy (i.e., cardiac amyloid). However, low-voltage QRS complex is not a uniform finding with the infiltrative cardiomyopathies. The clinical presentation, along with functional and morphologic features, often provides enough insight to establish a working diagnosis. In most circumstances, however, tissue or serologic evaluation is needed to validate or clarify the cardiac diagnosis and institute appropriate therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic / diagnosis
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans