Amyloidosis is a rare condition in which an abnormal type of protein, known as an amyloid, builds up in organs and tissues. Amyloidosis is classified into primary and secondary types. Primary amyloidosis forms from an overproduction of a particular type of blood cell called a plasma cell; secondary amyloidosis comes from long-term inflammation due to another underlying disease.

The signs and symptoms of amyloidosis vary depending on the organs and tissues involved. Common symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, difficulty breathing, pain and swelling of the legs, and changes in the heart rate or rhythm. Other symptoms may include an enlarged tongue, changes in skin color, kidney failure, and an enlarged spleen or liver.

Diagnosis of amyloidosis usually begins with a physical exam and a detailed medical history. Blood tests may be ordered to measure levels of proteins and hormones. A biopsy of affected tissues can also help confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options depend on the type of amyloidosis and the severity of symptoms. In some cases, medications and lifestyle changes may be enough to manage symptoms. In other cases, more aggressive treatments, such as chemotherapy and other medications, may be required.


Preventing amyloidosis can be difficult, especially since many cases are caused by an underlying condition. To help reduce your risk of amyloidosis, it is important to manage any underlying conditions and take steps to maintain your overall health. These steps may include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. Paying attention to any changes in your body and reporting new symptoms to your doctor right away is also important.


Amyloidosis can lead to a number of serious complications. Because the amyloid proteins can accumulate in the heart, patients may experience an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, or even cardiac arrest. Kidney failure is also a common complication, as are nerve and joint damage and respiratory problems. Amyloidosis can also increase the risk of blood clots, which can lead to further health complications.


The prognosis for amyloidosis varies depending on the type and severity of the condition. People with primary amyloidosis typically have a shorter life expectancy, usually two to three years. Secondary amyloidosis can often be managed with medications or lifestyle changes. For those with secondary amyloidosis, the prognosis depends on the underlying condition.

Coping Tips

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, it is important to take steps to stay healthy. Make sure to follow your treatment plan closely and to get plenty of rest. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can also help manage symptoms. Additionally, finding a support system or a community of people who have amyloidosis can be beneficial.

If you or a loved one is struggling with amyloidosis, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Therapy can be beneficial in helping you cope with diagnosis and learn ways to improve your quality of life.