Cardiac amyloidosis: the need for early diagnosis

Neth Heart J. 2019 Nov;27(11):525-536. doi: 10.1007/s12471-019-1299-1.


Amyloidosis is a collection of systemic diseases characterised by misfolding of previously soluble precursor proteins that become infiltrative depositions, thereby disrupting normal organ structure and function. In the heart, accumulating amyloid fibrils lead to progressive ventricular wall thickening and stiffness, resulting in diastolic dysfunction gradually progressing to a restrictive cardiomyopathy. The main types of cardiac amyloidosis are amyloid light chain (AL) amyloidosis caused by an underlying plasma cell dyscrasia, amyloid transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis of wild-type (normal) TTR at older age (ATTRwt) and hereditary or mutant amyloid TTR (ATTRm) in which a genetic mutation leads to an unstable TTR protein. Overall survival is poor once heart failure develops, underlining the need for early referral and diagnosis. Treatment for AL amyloidosis has improved markedly over the last decades, and TTR amyloidosis gene silencers and orally available transthyretin stabilisers are ready to enter the clinical arena after recent positive outcome trials. Novel therapies aiming at fibril degradation with monoclonal antibodies are under investigation. In this review, we focus on 'red flag' signs and symptoms, diagnosis and management of cardiac amyloidosis which differs considerably from the general management of heart failure. Only by increasing awareness, prognosis for patients with this devastating disease can be improved.

Keywords: Amyloidosis; Awareness; Diagnosis; HFpEF; Heart; Left ventricular hypertrophy; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review