Get Informed About Amyloidosis


Amyloidosis is a serious health condition that only affects a few thousand people in the United States each year. It occurs whenever a damaged protein cell multiplies out of control. The duplicate copies that it produces are also damaged. Once there is a large number of them in the body, they will begin to deposit in all of the major organs, such as the heart, spleen, intestines, liver, and kidneys. Because of the potential harm that this life threatening condition can cause a person's body over time, it is important that those who have the highest risk of developing it know about what causes amyloidosis, what its main symptoms are, and how it can be treated.

Causes of Amyloidosis

The cause of amyloidosis depends on the type of the condition that a person has. The largest number of people who get it have primary amyloidosis. It begins because of the abrupt multiplication of damaged protein cells, but a person will have no other underlying medical condition with it. Secondary amyloidosis is caused whenever a person has multiple myeloma cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, or other conditions that can affect the protein cells of the body. Some forms of amyloid proteins called prions are contagious. A person can potentially get them by eating the body tissue of another living organism that has been infected by them. The last type of amyloidosis is hereditary amyloidosis. It occurs whenever a person has a close relative with the disease.

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

Unfortunately, many cases of amyloidosis go undiagnosed for a long time because the symptoms of the condition are so vague. It is also possible that a person will have no symptoms at all until their organs begin to shut down from the damage done by the amyloid protein deposits. Whenever this happens, the symptoms that a person finally does get are caused by each of the organs that are being affected by the condition. For example, if the heart is damaged by amyloid proteins, a person will develop shortness of breath, edema and chest pain. If the kidneys are affected, then a person might notice that they have fatigue, back pain, and blood in their urine.

Treatment of Amyloidosis

The only possible way to help a person with amyloidosis is to treat the underlying cause of the condition. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible though since many of the conditions that exacerbate its development have no cure, such as Alzheimer's or Huntington's disease. Sometimes, doctors will try drastic measures to try to save a person's life from it though. For example, if the amyloid protein deposits have destroyed a person's kidneys, they may suggest a kidney transplant. But this isn't always approved by medical boards in these types of patients because the new organs will become infected by the protein deposits not long after the transplantation surgery takes place. The new organ will become damaged too. If multiple myeloma cancer is causing the amyloidosis, its progression can sometimes be delayed by giving a person chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The life expectancy of someone with multiple myeloma cancer is usually less than five years though, so this isn't always possible. Currently, there are some studies being done on using stem cell transplantation to try to treat this condition too. There isn't enough research yet to be able to tell if this could be an effective treatment option yet.

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