Cardiac amyloidosis : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

  • Excessive urination at night
  • Fatigue, reduced activity tolerance
  • Palpitations (sensation of feeling heart beat)
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or other part of the body (See: abdominal swelling)
  • Trouble breathing while lying down

Some patients may have no symptoms.

Diagnosis & Tests

It can be difficult to diagnose cardiac amyloidosis, because the signs can be related to a number of different conditions.

Signs may include:

  • Abnormal sounds in the lung (lung crackles) or a heart murmur
  • Blood pressure that is low or drops when you stand up
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Swollen liver

The following tests may be performed to help diagnose cardiac amyloidosis:

  • Chest or abdomen CT scan (this is considered the “gold standard”)
  • Coronary angiography
  • Echocardiogram
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear heart scans (MUGA, RNV)

An ECG may show problems with the heart beat or heart signals (conduction disturbance).

A cardiac biopsy is used to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy of another area, such as the abdomen, kidney, or bone marrow, is often done to confirm the diagnosis.


Review Date : 5/15/2008
Reviewed By : Alan Berger, MD, Assistant Professor, Divisions of Cardiology and Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc

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