“Stiff heart syndrome” hardens your heart.
Cardiac amyloidosis is a disorder in which clumps of abnormal proteins, called amyloid, build up in the heart tissue. If small, these deposits may cause no symptoms at all. But when deposits are large, they can lead to stiffening of the heart muscle. When the heart becomes rigid, the pumping function deteriorates and fluid can collect in the lungs, leading to breathlessness, and in the soft tissues, leading to leg and abdominal swelling.
Cardiac amyloidosis is more common in men than in women and is rare in people under age 40.
Different types of amyloidosis can affect the heart in different ways, and some are more severe than others. The most common type is AL amyloidosis which usually affects more than one organ. Familial amyloidosis is the inherited form of the disease. Senile systemic amyloidosis affects the hearts of elderly men. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. While there is no cure for amyloidosis, treatments can help you manage your symptoms and limit the production of amyloid protein.
Symptoms may include:
• Shortness of breath (sometimes worse when lying down)
• Swelling of the abdomen and legs
• Fatigue, reduced activity tolerance
• Angina (pressure or discomfort in the chest during exertion)