Diagnosis and Treatment for Cardiac Amyloidosis

Diagnosis for Amyloid Heart Disease:

Cardiac amyloidosis can do undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years as it can mimic other conditions. Cardiac amyloidosis is a progressive disease and early diagnosis is critical in altering the course of the disease. It is important to talk to specialists in the field if you have symptoms of amyloidosis like congestive heart failure, shortness of breath, irregular heart rhythm, neuropathy, unexplained stroke, swelling of legs or ankles, or kidney dysfunction. SIU Medicine specialists use the following tests to arrive at the correct diagnosis:

1.    Detailed history and physical examination
2.    Review of previous medical records
3.    Electrocardiogram (EKG) – this will be done in the heart doctor’s office
4.    Ultrasound of the heart (Echocardiogram) 
5.    Blood tests
6.    Urine tests
7.    Nuclear medicine scan – which is safe for patients with kidney disease and does not involve contrast or dye. 
8.    Cardiac MRI – if needed
9.    Biopsy — in rare circumstances 

These tests help the specialists to determine the type of amyloid and the extent of cardiac amyloidosis. Based on the test results further evaluation, treatment and/or referral to other specialists will be made. 

Treatment for Amyloid Heart Disease:

At SIU Medicine, doctors who specialize in the treatment and management of amyloidosis work as a team to provide the highest level of patient care. Treatment of amyloidosis depends on the symptoms, type of amyloidosis, organs affected and how far the disease has progressed. The main goal of treatment in any type of amyloidosis is to slow down or stop the production of abnormal proteins. Treatment success depends on an early diagnosis and type of amyloid. 

Patients with symptoms of congestive heart failure who have shortness of breath, swelling of ankles or legs due to excess of fluid retention are treated with water pills (diuretics) and appropriate lifestyle modification recommendations. 

Patients with heart rhythm problems, like heart blocks or arrhythmias, will also see an electrophysiologist as part of their care team.

Patients with very advanced heart disease will be referred to a heart failure specialist for evaluation and consideration for a heart transplant.