Amyloidosis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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What causes amyloidosis?

Amyloidosis is caused by changes in proteins that make them insoluble, leading them to deposit in organs and tissues. These amyloid proteins accumulate mainly in the tissue space between cells. Changes in proteins that make them amyloid proteins occur because of gene mutations.

What are risk factors for amyloidosis?

Risk factors for the inherited forms of amyloidosis are being genetically related to an ancestor with the disease. The risk factors for secondary amyloidosis are the underlying inflammatory chronic medical conditions.

Age is a risk factor for amyloidosis, as well, as most people who develop amyloidosis are over 60 years old.

What are amyloidosis symptoms and signs?

Symptoms in patients with amyloidosis result from abnormal functioning of the particular organs involved. There might be no symptoms until the disease is relatively advanced. The heart, kidneys, liver, bowels, skin, nerves, joints, and lungs can be affected. As a result, symptoms and signs are vague and can include fatigue, shortness of breath, weight loss, lack of appetite, numbness, tingling, carpal tunnel syndrome, weakness, hearing loss, enlarged tongue, bruising, and swelling of hands and feet. Amyloidosis in these organs leads to cardiomyopathy, heart failure, peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, malabsorption, diarrhea, and liver damage and failure. Amyloidosis affecting the kidney leads to "nephrotic syndrome," which is characterized by severe loss of protein in the urine and swelling of the extremities.

What types of specialists treat amyloidosis?

Amyloidosis can affect many different body systems, therefore many different specialists might be involved in the care.

Doctors who can be involved in the care of patients with amyloidosis include hematologists, nephrologists, cardiologists, rheumatologists, pulmonologists, neurologists, pathologists, and internists.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/19/2016

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