OCT 24, 2019 10:58 AM PDT

Protein Build-Up Places Heart at Risk

WRITTEN BY: Abbie Arce

Amyloidosis is a disease caused by protein buildup in the body. These abnormal proteins, called amyloids, are produced in the bone marrow. Multiple types of these proteins exist and can be harmful. These can travel into any tissue or organ and may build up there.

These proteins generally affect the kidneys, liver, spleen, or heart. They may even build up in the nervous system or digestive tract. In severe cases, they can cause organ failure, which can be deadly. 

Currently, there is no cure for the condition. That said, the condition may be managed with proper treatment.

Symptoms may include edema in the lower legs or ankles, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or bloody stool.

There are a few types of including immunoglobulin light-chain amyloidosis (AL), secondary amyloidosis (AA), hereditary amyloidosis (ATTR), and dialysis-related amyloidosis. 

The type most likely to affect the heart is hereditary amyloidosis. 

This subtype is inherited and in addition to the heart, may also damage the liver, kidneys, or nerves. Numerous different gene abnormalities are associated with the condition, and each of them influence how the disease will appear in progress in an individual.

Some of the risk factors for developing amyloidosis include age, sex, family history, race, and a history of dialysis. 

The most common age of diagnosis is between 60 and 70 years old. Most people, about 70% of those diagnosed, are male. Those with a family history are also more likely to develop the condition, as are those descending from Africa. Lastly, dialysis may be unable to remove large proteins from the blood, allowing them to build up. This type of amyloidosis has become less prevalent over time as dialysis machines have improved. 

Although complications can occur anywhere in the body, they can be especially concerning in the heart. When the condition affects the heart, it may prevent blood from properly flowing into the atria. The condition may also alter the heart rhythm or lead to shortness of breath.

The following video, from osmosis, goes into detail about amyloidosis. 

 

 

Sources: Mayo ClinicOsmosis

About the Author
  • Abbie is an AFAA certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with an interest in all things health-science. She has recently graduated with her BS in Applied Sport and Exercise Science from Barry University in Miami. Next, she intends to earn an MPH with a focus in Epidemiology.
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