What Is Cardiac Amyloidosis?


Quick Answer

Cardiac amyloidosis is a condition where abnormal masses of protein develop within the heart, MedlinePlus explains. These deposits of protein make it more difficult for the heart to function properly. These proteins gradually replace the normal heart tissue and can cause the heart to fail. It can disrupt the electrical signals that control the heart and cause the heart to beat with abnormal rhythms.

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Full Answer

Cardiac amyloidosis is also known as "stiff heart syndrome" says MedlinePlus. It is rare in people who are under 40 years old and is less common in women than in men. Cardiac amyloidosis does not always cause symptoms, but when they occur, common symptoms include reduced endurance, shortness of breath with exertion, trouble breathing while prone, excessive nighttime urination and palpitations. The condition can also cause swelling in the ankles, legs or abdomen.

The symptoms of cardiac amyloidosis are similar to those caused by several other conditions, so it can be difficult to diagnose, MedlinePlus explains. Initial signs of the condition can include swollen neck veins, heart murmur, low blood pressure and liver swelling. Doctors use tests to diagnose the condition, including MRI, coronary angioplasty and nuclear heart scans. Treatments for cardiac amyloidosis include limiting intake of salt and fluids, chemotherapy, prednisone, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers.

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