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Cardiac amyloidosis at a glance

09 May 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 9


Amyloidosis can affect any organ in the body by deposition of amyloid fibrils. When these aggregate in the heart, it leads to cardiac amyloidosis a life-threatening and progressive disease. Although considered a rare condition, advances in imaging techniques and raised awareness have shown that it might be more frequent than has been historically estimated. Cardiac amyloidosis can be hereditary or occur as a consequence of the ageing process but, regardless of type, patients experience a heavy symptomatic burden. This article provides an overview of its pathophysiology, signs and symptoms and how any nurse can look for the main red flags in clinical practice. Early referral for specialist care can have a significant impact on disease progression and patient quality of life.

Amyloidosis is considered a rare systemic disease, meaning it can affect different organs of the body, including the heart, kidneys, liver and nervous system (Papingiotis et al, 2021). Prevalence worldwide is considered to be highly under-recognised (Ruberg et al, 2019; Kittleson et al, 2020), but it has been on the rise since 2007 (Quock et al, 2018; Ney et al, 2023). Limited information is available about the prevalence of systemic amyloidosis, but in the UK, it is estimated to affect 8.0 per million inhabitants per year (Pinney et al, 2013). In the UK, there are at least 6000 cases at any time (Royal Free Charity, 2024), with imaging developments improving recognition and formal diagnosis, including of amyloidosis involving the heart (Maurer et al, 2017).

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