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Learn more about the Cardiac Amyloidosis Center.
Learn more about the Cardiac Amyloidosis Center.

Cardiac Amyloidosis Center

The multidisciplinary Cardiac Amyloidosis Center, part of the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, is a leader in comprehensive, innovative patient care and research in cardiac amyloidosis. 

About The Cardiac Amyloidosis Center

Cardiac amyloidosis, is a condition in which a normally occurring body protein becomes defective and clumps together in the heart muscle. As amyloid fibrils deposit in the heart, it becomes more difficult for the heart to fill with blood. This causes symptoms including shortness of breath, swelling in legs, or fatigue.

Our multi-disciplinary team of specialists is at the forefront of providing innovative, minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment options for patients with cardiac amyloidosis. 

Cardiac Amyloidosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Cardiac amyloidosis can cause symptoms similar to other heart conditions. Thus, it requires a high level of expertise to diagnose. If you are experiencing any signs of heart problems, you should always see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of amyloidosis include: 

  • Shortness of breath with activity 
  • Swelling of ankles and feet
  • Numbness and tingling in fingers or toes 
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness when getting up too quickly 
  • Passing out (syncope) 
  • Irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter) 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Unintentional weight loss 
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Persistent fatigue 
  • An enlarged tongue, which sometimes looks rippled around its edge 
  • Skin changes, such as thickening or easy bruising, and purplish patches around the eyes 

The specialists at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute’s Cardiac Amyloidosis Center use advanced testing to diagnose cardiac amyloidosis. Our specialists are leaders in non-invasive tests for the diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis and can make the diagnosis without a cardiac biopsy in many cases.  The tests used for cardiac amyloidosis might include:

  • Pyrophosphate scanning_
  • Echocardiography
  • Cardiac MRI
  • PET scanning
  • Blood tests
  • ECG
  • Nerve function testing
  • Occasionally, a biopsy

Treatment

Our specialists at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute’s Cardiac Amyloidosis Center have access to all advanced therapies for amyloidosis and will create a plan dedicated to your specific needs. 

  • TTR amyloidosis: Treatment for this type of amyloidosis is focused on stopping the TTR proteins from forming amyloid and depositing in organs/tissues. Our team of doctors will talk to you about the latest treatments and research studies.
  • AL amyloidosis: Treatment for this amyloidosis usually involves chemotherapy to reduce the overproduction of antibody light chains in bone marrow. Some patients may require bone marrow transplantation. 
  • Treatment for symptoms: There are various medications that are used to manage symptoms and complications related to organ dysfunction from amyloid deposition, including medications for heart failure.