Light-chain cardiac amyloidosis: Strategies to promote early diagnosis and cardiac response

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62 Scopus citations


Amyloid light chain (AL) amyloidosis is a systemic disease characterised by the aggregation of misfolded immunoglobulin light chain (LC), predominantly in the heart and kidneys, causing organ failure. If untreated, the median survival of patients with cardiac AL amyloidosis is 6 months from the onset of heart failure. Protracted time to establish a diagnosis, often lasting >1 year, is a frequent factor in poor treatment outcomes. Cardiologists, to whom patients are often referred, frequently miss the opportunity to diagnose cardiac AL amyloidosis. Nearly all typical cardiac support measures, with the exception of diuretics, are ineffective and may even worsen clinical symptoms, emphasising the need for accurate diagnosis. Patients with severe cardiac involvement face poor outcomes; heart transplantation is rarely an option because of multiorgan involvement, rapid clinical decline and challenges in predicting which patients will respond to treatment of the underlying plasma cell disorder. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment with â€Ëœsource therapies’ that limit the production of amyloidogenic LC are associated with better survival and improvement in organ function after a median of 2.4 months following haematological complete response. However, organ recovery is often incomplete because these source therapies do not directly target deposited amyloid. Emerging amyloid-directed therapies may attenuate, and potentially reverse, organ dysfunction by clearing existing amyloid and inhibiting fibril formation of circulating aggregates. Improved recognition of AL amyloidosis by cardiologists allows for earlier treatment and improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1072
Number of pages8
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Cardiac imaging and diagnostics
  • Infiltrative cardiomyopathies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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