Hiding in Plain Sight: Cardiac Amyloidosis, an Emerging Epidemic

Bennett Di Giovanni, Dakota Gustafson, Mitchell B Adamson, Diego H Delgado
Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2020, 36 (3): 373-383
Amyloidosis is a term used to describe a group of rare heterogeneous diseases that ultimately result in the deposition and accumulation of misfolded proteins. These misfolded proteins, known as amyloids, are associated with a variety of precursor proteins that have amyloidogenic potential. Ultimately, the specific type of amyloidosis is dependent on multiple factors including genetic variability of precursor proteins and the tissue or organ in which the amyloid accumulates. Several types of amyloid have a predilection for the heart and thus contribute to cardiac amyloidosis, a major cause of restrictive cardiomyopathy. Individuals with cardiac amyloidosis present clinically with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Although improved diagnostics and increased awareness of cardiac amyloidosis have led to a relative increase in diagnosis, cardiac amyloidosis remains an underrecognized and underdiagnosed cause of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. It is essential to properly identify cases of cardiac amyloidosis and determine the pathology responsible for the formation of amyloid to appropriately provide management. This review aims to encourage physician awareness of cardiac amyloidosis by focusing on clinical presentation and the distinctions between types. Furthermore, epidemiology is central to understanding the affected demographics and sometimes hereditary nature of the disease. Improved understanding of cardiac amyloidosis will ideally lead to earlier diagnosis and interventions to improve patient outcomes.

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