Cardiac amyloidosis: a practical approach to diagnosis and management

Am J Med. 2011 Nov;124(11):1006-15. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.04.013.


Cardiac amyloidosis, the primary determinant of prognosis in systemic amyloidoses, is characterized by infiltration of myocardium by amyloid protein resulting in cardiomyopathy and conduction disturbances. Cardiac involvement is primarily encountered in immunoglobulin (AL) and transthyretin-associated (hereditary/familial and senile) amyloidoses. Although the latter variants could be indolent, untreated AL amyloidosis with clinical cardiac involvement is a rapidly fatal disease. The management decisions of cardiac amyloidosis are based on the underlying cause. Although treatment of senile systemic amyloidosis is largely supportive, the therapeutic approaches for AL amyloidosis include chemotherapy, autologous stem cell transplantation, and, rarely, cardiac transplantation. The familial variant is potentially curable with a liver ± cardiac transplantation. This narrative review outlines a practical approach to these challenging diagnoses in the face of rapidly evolving management strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / blood
  • Amyloidosis / diagnosis*
  • Amyloidosis / pathology
  • Amyloidosis / therapy*
  • Amyloidosis, Familial / diagnosis*
  • Amyloidosis, Familial / pathology
  • Amyloidosis, Familial / therapy*
  • Biopsy
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography
  • Endocardium / pathology
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / pathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Prealbumin / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein / metabolism


  • Amyloid
  • Prealbumin
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein
  • amyloid protein AL