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Cardiac amyloidosis

  • Alternative Names

    Amyloidosis - cardiac; Primary cardiac amyloidosis - AL type; Secondary cardiac amyloidosis - AA type; Stiff heart syndrome; Senile amyloidosis


    Treatment

    Your doctor may tell you to change your diet. This may include salt and fluid restrictions.

    You may need to take water pills (diuretics) to help your body remove excess fluid. The doctor may tell you to weigh yourself every day. A weight gain of 3 or more pounds over 1 - 2 days can mean there is too much fluid in the body.

    Digoxin, calcium channel blockers, and beta blockers may be used with caution in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, the dosage must be carefully monitored. Patients with cardiac amyloidosis may be unusually sensitive to any side effects.

    Other treatments may include:

    • Chemotherapy
    • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD)
    • Pacemaker, if there are problems with heart signals
    • Prednisone, an anti-inflammatory medicine

    A heart transplant may be considered for some patients with very poor heart function. However, it is not done in those with AL type amyloidosis, because the disease weakens many other organs. People with hereditary amyloidosis will need a liver transplant.


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Cardiac amyloidosis is a long-term (chronic) condition that slowly gets worse. On average, persons with cardiac amyloidosis live less than 1 year.


    Complications
    • Atrial fibrillation or ventricular arrhythmias
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)
    • Increased sensitivity to digoxin
    • Low blood pressure and dizziness from excessive urination (due to medication)
    • Sick sinus syndrome
    • Symptomatic cardiac conduction system disease (arrhythmias related to abnormal conduction of impulses through the heart muscle)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have this disorder and new symptoms develop, particularly:

    • Dizziness when you change position
    • Excessive weight (fluid) gain
    • Excessive weight loss
    • Fainting spells
    • Severe breathing difficulty