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Cardiac Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a largely under diagnosed disease that can lead to severe health consequences, and can be fatal if not properly treated after early detection. Classified as a group of diseases, amyloidosis occurs when protein deposits build up in one or more organs, causing the tissue to stiffen and impairing organ function. In patients who have cardiac amyloidosis, protein deposits collect in the heart, causing the muscle to harden to a point where it can no longer beat effectively. Because amyloidosis is often undiagnosed and misunderstood, a large number of people are unaware of their risk for developing this condition until the disease has progressed into a serious health issue.

Our Approach to Care

The University of Chicago Medicine is one of only a few institutions in the country that specializes in cardiac amyloidosis. Our Cardiac Amyloidosis Programs features a team of multidisciplinary experts with the experience to diagnose and treat this complex condition. Our team of physicians works closely together to assess your condition and create an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Physician-scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine are conducting groundbreaking research to better understand the disease and its causes in order to identify high-risk patients and find effective, long-term treatments. We are committed to finding novel ways to manage this condition in order offer our patients the best quality of life during and after treatment. A fundamental part of our continued progress is educating both the medical community and the public about cardiac amyloidosis and why early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for success.

Types of Cardiac Amyloidosis We Treat

There are multiple types of amyloidosis that impact various organs and parts of the body, including several that affect the heart. Cardiologists at the University of Chicago Medicine primarily treat two types of amyloidosis:

AL amyloidosis (also called primary amyloidosis) is the most commonly diagnosed amyloidosis with more than 4,000 new cases every year. AL amyloidosis can affect multiple organs, including the heart, kidneys, liver and more. This type of amyloidosis originates in the bone marrow, when the plasma cells produce an abnormal protein (amyloid) that cannot be broken down. These proteins are deposited into the tissue and builds up in the organs. Given how rapidly this disease can progress, obtaining an early diagnosis of AL cardiac amyloidosis is crucial to receiving effective treatment.

TTR amyloidosis can be hereditary or can occur in people who do not have a genetic link to the condition (referred to as wild TTR). With TTR amyloidosis, proteins build up in the heart, leading to fluid retention and function impairment, and, if left untreated, ultimately resulting in congestive heart failure. This is a serious and life threatening condition.

Hereditary TTR amyloidosis is more prevalent in the African American population, putting the University of Chicago Medicine is in a unique position to identify high-risk patients and begin treatment sooner. «Learn more about our genetic testing.