Amyloidosis is a condition that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in one or more organs. In cardiac amyloidosis, the protein deposits collect in the heart, stiffening the heart muscle so that it can’t pump effectively. This disease often goes undiagnosed until serious health problems develop, and it can be fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for successful treatment.

The University of Chicago Medicine is one of only a few institutions in the country that specializes in cardiac amyloidosis. Our Cardiac Amyloidosis Program includes a team of multidisciplinary experts who have the experience to diagnose and treat this complex condition.

We are committed to offering our patients the best quality of life during and after treatment. And we’re doing groundbreaking research into the disease and its causes, so we can identify high-risk patients and develop effective, long-term treatments. We also offer genetic testing for patients and their families.

While several types of amyloidosis affect the heart, our cardiologists primarily treat the following two types:

AL amyloidosis (also called primary amyloidosis) is the most commonly diagnosed, with more than 4,000 new cases every year. AL amyloidosis can affect the heart, kidneys, liver and other organs. This type of amyloidosis starts in the bone marrow, when the plasma cells produce an abnormal protein (amyloid) that builds up in the organs. This disease can progress rapidly, so early detection is crucial.

TTR amyloidosis can be hereditary or can occur in people who do not have a genetic link to the condition. With TTR amyloidosis, proteins build up in the heart, leading to fluid retention and, if not treated, congestive heart failure. African-Americans have a higher risk for hereditary TTR amyloidosis.